Volunteers earn varsity letter for hours

Students in Pierce County can receive a varsity letter in community service through United Way if they have completed at least 145 hours of community service.

Last year, 54 of the recipients were from Puyallup High School.

The letter is a way for students to officially document their hours spent giving back to the community each year.

Senior Kenvaze Sidhu received a letter last year for competing 160 hours of community service through Multi Care at Good Samaritan.

“I got the varsity letter because it is recognized by many sources where as just writing 160 hours on a college transcript is good but a varsity letter makes it official,” Sidhu said.

Students can do their community service through one single program or through many events and programs.

Senior Emily Hurst received a varsity letter sophomore year and junior year and is on track to receive another one this year.

“I volunteered at church events like camp and mission trips, at HOSA events, with Viking Ladies and at the Children’s Therapy Center,” Hurst said.

Jessica Anderson, math teacher and Key Club adviser, recommends finding community service that suits your interests.

“Pursue your career interests when considering community service. Contact businesses in your field and ask about opportunities,” Anderson said.

There are many opportunities to volunteer in the community. Students just have to find them.

“I had always wanted to volunteer with Multi Care. Getting up and getting the process started was the hardest part. Once you’re done with that it all falls into place,” Sidhu said.

But students should be aware that the tracking period is not a normal school year.

“The timeline is from beginning of April to the end of the next March. So this year [students can document hours completed] from April 2013 to March 2014,” Sidhu said.

In order to receive a varsity letter in community service, students must complete paperwork that can be found at the website found with the QR code below and turn it in by April 1, 2014.

“I finished the paperwork within a week before it was due. I do not suggest that,” Sidhu said. “Get the paperwork done. It is not that hard to put together.”

The United Way verifies all of the paperwork and then sends students who meet the requirements invitations to the annual ceremony held each May.

“The ceremony was a great experience because we sat with our school, so I was around all my friends. It was good to see the people serving the community. Each individual school was recognized,” Sidhu said. “It is a good time to listen to speakers and [see] the accomplishment of our school, and every school what we accomplished as a community.”

The ceremony is also a reminder of why the students do the community service.

“It is never been about the letter or even getting into college, it is always been about giving back,” Hurst said.

Students are encouraged to keep serving the community even after they have received their letter.

“I definitely recommend that people keep community service in mind even after you are done because it helps a lot in the community and you are appreciated. It is not just work,” Sidhu said. “People will appreciate you for what you do.”