The Pelican Service Organization (PSO) has been very successful this past year. As the central base of our service mindset as a school, PSO dreams up new events and continues on traditions from year to year.
1.) Rachel’s Table
Running through the aisle, looking for the greatest deals, participants think excitedly about the potential meals that would be made with recently bought boxes and cans, smiling in victory as they admire the super long receipt with all the savings added up on the bottom. As a race towards combatting hunger in our immediate community, the annual Rachel’s Table food-raiser held at the Big Y in Longmeadow truly embodies PSO’s spirit of helping others. As one of the first community service events of the school year, Rachel’s Table introduced to students the idea of service as a way of bringing friends closer together and extending friendship to others in need.
2.) Halloween Haunted House
On October 31st, 2014, the PSO and the Student Council ran their first joint-event of the year – the Halloween Haunted House – to raise money for the UNICEF. Just as the darkness set in on campus, PSO and StuCo members, along with a few volunteers, waited at their respective stations from the haunted old health center and Dr. Culbert opened her house as a station as well. All were prepared to scare the students who pass by. Hannah McCarthy Potter ’16, president of the PSO, added enthusiastically, “We had students from every single grade drenched in fake blood scarring victims of our haunted house. The haunted house was a super creative event because PSO decided the themes of each room and how we wanted to decorate the entire health center. I learned how well PSO can work as a team and the importance of reaching out to the broader Loomis community when PSO needs support.”
3.) Mardi Gras
On February 26th, 2015, students who participated in the Mardi Gras dinner indulged in delicious homemade food with only a few dollars. By raising more than $1,500 for NicaPhoto, the PSO was able to help the “grass-roots organization dedicated to helping break the cycle poverty in Nicaragua.” Moreover, the event featured the Acapelicans with their medley of “Cups” and other songs to add more festivity and lighten up the atmosphere for participants to enjoy their potluck dinner.
4.) Color Run
The color run started in 2013 when seniors Ryan Springer-Miller ’13 and Emelynn Abreu ’13 decided to do a senior project to raise money for Mrs. Dexter’s four-year-old grandson, who was diagnosed with cancer at the time. With the bang of the starting gun, people sprinted, jogged, or walked the one mile loop, getting splashed in color from the squirts of paint aimed at them from the sides. Having seen major success that year, PSO had the opportunity to continue the tradition the following year as well. “With the all school theme of ‘Sustainability,’ PSO decided to raise money for 350.org in 2014,” said Aurelie Liu ’16, one of the representatives for PSO. “We got better in terms of organization as participants brought in donations, and we provided the appropriate food, drinks, and donation boxes. Because the color run has always been successful in terms of both satisfaction and donation, I hope color run will be a priority next year.” In fact, Ms. Lombardo, adviser to the PSO, imagines the next color run will instead be held in fall as one of the opening days’ events and also double as a welcome to new freshmen, inviting them to get involved in PSO.
5.) Special Olympics
Thanks to the leadership of Bobby Cecere ’16, the Special Olympics’ Connecticut Northern Spring Time Trials have found their home at Loomis. Held last year, this event set the stage for a day of hard work and accomplishment for all the athletes and 350 student volunteers. This year on May 17th, Loomis will again host the Special Olympics. Again, PSO encourages all students to volunteer and sign up for an incredibly inspiring day of good sportsmanship and miracles. Making posters for each town and assigning each town a team, PSO members worked hard to make the event better organized than the first year.
6.) Soup Kitchen
On the first Friday of each month, a group from PSO took a trip to the Enfield Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen. The soup kitchen is a nonprofit organization that relies solely on donations and volunteers. With their mission statement, “Committed to providing meals and fellowship to the poor, hungry, and disenfranchised within our community,” the soup kitchen had helped many families in the area, especially those who have recently lost homes to the devastating Hartford fires. By providing nutritious meals (including fruit, bread rolls, and chicken), volunteers walk out with a sense of accomplishment and appreciation for what they have in life. James Jin ’16, Secretary of PSO, commented, “It helps us think more about our local community; we like to think of international community…but sometimes we forget about the poverty around us. It’s always interesting to see how people come together to help out.” Thankfully, with the help of Student Council’s Benefit Concert, PSO and the StuCo were able to contribute in financing a new furnace for the soup kitchen to allow them to keep on running.
7.) Future House-Building
In terms of hopes for next year, Ms. Lombardo recounted of an organization she holds close to her heart. When she volunteered in Guatemala a few years back, she had helped orphans who suffered from malnutrition and lived in shelter that could barely be called houses. Because it took $2000 to build one brick house through the Common Hope program, she would like to raise $2000 during the year and take a group with her at the end of the year to build another house for another family. Surprisingly, it only takes a week to build; while it might not be much for us to do, it truly leaves a big impact for the family. Combining cultural awareness and language immersion on top of a service mission, Ms. Lombardo envisions a service trip to Antigua in the spring of 2016.
How to get Involved in PSO
Pelican Service Organization allows the members of the Loomis Chaffee community to show their best self by providing service to others in need. “There can never be too much participation,” stated James. “Everyone at Loomis is willing and able to commit to service. We try to address many different areas from tutoring children, to sponsoring sports events, to soup kitchens. Of course, we still look into ways to get more people involved; we can always use new ideas! We can always get better and help more people explore the joys of community service.” Anyone willing to contribute to a cause is encouraged to participate in the various events offered through the year and become a member of the PSO!