SARATOGA SPRINGS — At Saratoga Central Catholic School, giving back is simply part of the mission.
The school’s National Honor Society and National Junior Honor Society recently concluded its food drive, donating over four carloads of food to the St. Clement’s food pantry on Lake Avenue. Up next is the annual ‘Toys for Tots’ drive, with each grade at the school tasked with donating different types of toys.
“We’re trying it differently this year, so that we get a wide variety,” said National Junior Honor Society advisor Susan Barbolt, listing Matchbox cars, Tonka trucks, art supplies, and plush animals as some of the requested items for certain grades.
The toys are picked up by local police and fire departments and are donated to local Toys for Tots drives.
“We try to do as much as we can, just right here,” Barbolt said.
“I think it’s good awareness for us, to recognize what we have and how we can give back to our community,” said senior Annie Munn, the school’s Student Council President and a member of the National Honor Society.
Barbolt, along with National Honor Society advisor Erin Crowther, help organize seasonal drives and donations, but they also host an annual ‘Hoops for Hope’ basketball game that Barbolt said is primarily led by the students.
“The ‘Hoops for Hope’, I will say, the students are the ones doing the fundraising,” said Barbolt. “Erin and I just kind of oversee the events for the day for the basketball tournament.”
‘Hoops for Hope’ sees teachers at Saratoga Central Catholic coaching students. Ronan Rowe, a member of the National Junior Honor Society, said, “Everybody likes to play against each other.”
“We kind of talk to each other,” said Rowe. “It’s like a rivalry.”
Ava Brown, another member of the Junior Honor Society, said the school sees recurring donations each year from some community members, saying, “We’re just thankful that everybody supports in this community.”
Barbolt said the basketball game serves to raise money for a local organization or family. Last year, the school raised over $11,000 for an employee of the school who was diagnosed with a terminal illness, she said.
“This year, we’ll be meeting probably before Christmas break to decide on our charity,” said Barbolt. “We have a lot of new ideas to make ‘Hoops for Hope’ bigger, and better.”
Senior Ethan Schwaner, a National Honor Society member, said it “definitely feels good” to be able to help the local community.
“It definitely goes to a great cause, and it’s part of our school’s mission,” said Schwaner. “We like to do community service a lot here, and I think the students find a lot of pride in doing it and they feel good about giving back. So it’s definitely a good motivation for them to help in any way they can.”
Brown said it feels good to help the community and “have everybody come together.”
“Our leaders here, and our mentors, they help us and show us how to help and how to support each other, and help us raise money for causes and donate,” Brown said.
Munn also said it is meaningful to be able to help “our own community, and organizations that we interact with and see on a day-to-day basis.”
“I like that we’re helping people that we see every day and live within our own town,” said Munn.
Barbolt said the student participation has been strong every year, saying students “really rally” around good causes.
“I’ve never been here a year where we haven’t had huge participation for any of the events that we’ve done,” said Barbolt. “The food drive was a huge success, and I’m going to speculate that the Toys for Tots will be the same response.
“It’s a great community to work at and to be a part of, because it’s more than a school, it’s a community.”