[ HAWAII'S SCHOOLS: LEJARDIN ]
Freshmen volunteer at home for ill kids
Students at Le Jardin Academy have always enjoyed a number of privileges. But for Le Jardin freshmen Kelly Connors, Brittany Daniels, Alyssa Knight and Kara Singson, these privileges are not accompanied by a sense of entitlement; they are working as volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House in Manoa.
The Ronald McDonald House organization helps terminally ill children and their families deal with the financial and emotional adversities of their illnesses.
"We just wanted to help people," Connors said.
Volunteers are asked to do various chores around the house. "(We) pretty much do what they need help with ... cleaning and spending time with the children so they aren't bored," Daniels said.
Connors said most of the children staying at the house are too sick to enjoy the same social activities others take for granted: "The kids are really happy when we come. (They) don't get to see other kids often."
Through this program, the girls have also developed some close friendships. Connors and Knight recalled a young girl they met at the house. Because of her leukemia, she had never been able to attend school on a regular basis and spent most of her time in hospitals and care homes like the Ronald McDonald house.
With aggressive treatment, her leukemia went into remission and she was finally able to go to school; however, this also meant she would have to leave the house and her newfound friends.
Connors and Knight, eager to support the girl of whom they had become fond, tried to organize a sleep-over where they could spend time together.
"We wanted to, you know, paint her nails and just spend time with her," Knight said.
Unfortunately, their friend had to move back to her home country of Vietnam before they could get together. Nevertheless, the girls have fond memories of the time they spent with her.
In addition to their work at the Ronald McDonald House, the girls also volunteer at Tripler Army Medical Center, where they spend time with veterans. When asked why they volunteer, Connors eagerly replied, "It's nice to give back to our community." She added, "It's a great experience. It's good to know you're helping."
Daniels emphasized that she does volunteer work because, "The person I'm helping really appreciates it and I'm making their life better."
Each week, Hawaii's teenage reporters and photographers tell us about their high school. This week, it's LeJardin Academy.