FHS Students are Making a Change Through Volunteering


Photo Provided by Tara Bhogaraju.

Sophomores Tara Bhogaraju, Shamshika Guttireddy, Sandy Yang, and Catherine Wroniewicz helping out at a FHS Marching Band competition.

Keira McDowell, Staff Writer

Volunteering is a big aspect of Freedom High School. From the variety of volunteer based clubs offered at Freedom High School to other local organizations, students are playing a role in helping the community.

“You don’t realize how fortunate you are until you actually help out in the community” said Heidi Tanudjaja, a FHS senior and the president of KEY club.

She volunteers with her church, Dulles South and KEY club, which is a FHS club that offers a variety of volunteering opportunities for students.

According to Lisa Wood, the FHS career specialist, in the school year 2021-2022, FHS students had a total of 23,761 hours submitted across 28,000 forms. With this, there were a total of 114 students that received at least one Volunteer Letter of Service pin. There were nine freshmen, 17 sophomores, 52 juniors, and 26 seniors who all received one pin. Ten students earned a second additional pin by volunteering for at least another 100 hours. The Volunteer Letter of Service is an award that can be achieved by volunteering a total of 100 hours throughout the four years of  high school. Any additional 100 hours of volunteering is rewarded with an additional pin.

So many volunteer hours can make a big difference to those in need across many organizations. Students had different reasons for volunteering their time.

Freshman Lexi Perry said, “I volunteer because it makes me feel like I’m making a difference through helping others.”

Perry volunteers with Girl Scouts, most specifically at a variety of Girl Scout camps over the summer, and hopes to join the Red Cross club at FHS. 

“My favorite part [of volunteering] is meeting a lot of different people and being able to give back to the community,” said sophomore Tara Bhogaraju.

Bhogaraju volunteers with the Dulles South Food Pantry, Girl Scouts, Nest 4 Us and the Afghanistan Youth Relief Foundation. Through the Afghanistan Youth Relief Foundation, Bhogaraju was given the opportunity to pack clothes and needed items for those currently in Afghanistan.

“I hope that through packing these clothes I will actually help and benefit someone in Afghanistan going through a crisis right now,” Bhogaraju said. 

For Tanudjaja, one memorable moment she has from her time volunteering was helping with the Leukemia Lymphoma Society where she helped raise awareness about leukemia and lymphoma in the community. 

“I actually got to help out a family up here at Woodgrove High School, because their son was suffering with leukemia and lymphoma,” Tanudjaja said. “I found it really neat and cool that I can impact someone through something so small.”

On top of making a change and helping those both in and out of the community, there are many valuable skills someone can gain from volunteering.

“I’ve learned a lot through volunteering. Specifically how to lead groups of any age and how to manage my time better,” Perry said. 

These skills include things such as being more confident to talk to new people, trying new things, the opportunity to be a leader, gain organization skills, to work as a team with others and the ability to learn physical skills such as building, how to do crafts, and more.

“Through volunteering I’ve blossomed and been able to talk to other people and not be scared,” Tanudjaja said.

Some volunteer based clubs that FHS offers are KEY club, Hope club, Red Cross club, Environmental club, Educators Rising, UNICEF Club and Unified Sports. All of which offer different types of volunteering opportunities to FHS students. From working with children, helping the environment, to helping those with disabilities, FHS has something for everyone. 

“Just ask around and look for communities and organizations,” Bhogaraju said, “There’s always an organization that needs help.”

Some local volunteering organizations that want help consist of the Dulles Food Pantry, the Gum Spring Library, Boy  Scouts and Girl Scouts. While some other opportunities include tutoring, coaching a kids sports team, or helping at the local elementary schools, middle schools, churches, animal shelters, hospitals, or nursing homes. 

“If you haven’t volunteered already, volunteer! It’s a great way to reach out to people and learn new opportunities,” Tanudjaja said.