An average Carmel High student is obligated to earn 60 hours of community service before graduation. The Lend-A-Hand club has taken this requirement a step further by encouraging members to give back in a place beyond the boundaries of the Monterey Peninsula: Africa.
A small group of CHS students assemble Tuesdays for a Lend-A-Hend meeting under the leadership of senior Carli Hambley to discuss service locally and worldwide.
“I started the club this year to gather individuals interested in giving back,” Hambley says. “This club is kind of a culmination of all my favorite things: travel, culture and service.”
Earlier this year, the club collaborated with the Singers’ and Songwriters’ Guild to collect socks for the local homeless community to keep their feet warm as winter approaches.
“Everyone hates having cold feet!” Hambley observes. “I was happily surprised when we received a hamper full of socks.”
And when it comes to volunteering, the club has ambitions beyond the Monterey Peninsula.
Throughout the year, the club will continue helping the homeless and others in the community, while simultaneously fundraising for a trip to Africa.
“I’ve always had a drive to volunteer and wanted to create a club that would allow students to go abroad and experience an amazing and enriching experience helping those in need,” Hambley explains.
In June, Hambley will take a small group of peers to Limuru, Kenya, to volunteer.
Hambley is in contact with Samuel Njenga, the director of the Youth Transformation Network in Limuru, who will coordinate students’ volunteering and housing.
Once in Kenya, club members will work with both school and community in providing one-on-one attention to kids needing love and help, while also helping with green farming.
“In place of specialized skill, our offering is our kind hearts and great work ethic,” Hambley says.
In addition to Hambley’s leadership, the club is fortunate to have such a supportive and dedicated club advisor.
“I’d like to help them realize their dream of going to Africa and having a transformative experience,” advisor Marc Stafford says.
The price of the trip is daunting, but not impossible: $3,000 per student. The round-trip plane ticket alone costs nearly $2,000, and the traveling members are encouraged to raise another $1,000 for room and board. A portion of the money will go to a monetary donation for the organization as thanks for their hospitality.
The club is eager to raise money and has planned fundraisers ranging from t-shirt sales to a parent dinner. Members are encouraged to ask for pledges from families and friends for each hour of community service they perform on the peninsula, emphasizing their commitment to the local community.
“After volunteering in Africa I hope to be a more well-rounded person and have a different perspective on the community that we live in,” freshman club member Chase Jenkins says.
Hambley acknowledges that some have argued that it is wasteful to spend money on a plane ticket and trip when one could just donate the same amount of money to another worthy organization, but she stands by her goals, explaining, “This trip will be a transformative experience that will hopefully foster future leaders and encourage a path of continued support and volunteering both in Africa and throughout the world.”