- The Washington Times
Monday, December 2, 2019


On Sunday afternoon, prior to the Washington Redskins, ahem, emerging victorious over the Carolina Panthers, a teen named Mayce Wood and several other Carolina student-athletes drew cheers and applause.

Mayce is an example of how young people, especially those in high school mandated to perform community service, simply see a need and lend a helping hand.

And if you or your parents are interested in you attending college, Mayce’s route is one worth pursuing.

Mayce saw the need up close in September 2018, when Hurricane Florence swirled its way from Georgia up the mid-Atlantic. Lives were lost, homes were devastated and livelihoods were shattered during the brutal beating by Florence.

Mayce got busy planning fundraisers for the downtrodden. A softball and volleyball player, she won the StarNewsVarsity Awards’ Community Spirit Award in June. The awards are sponsored by the Wilmington Star-News, North Carolina’s oldest newspaper in continuous publication and which even Hurricane Florence could not close.

Next, the good Samaritan efforts of humble Mayce sprang forth, eventually reaching the Panthers organization, whose Community Captain initiative celebrates student-athletes in North and South Carolina who excel in sports, in the classroom and in the community. And voila!

“Everybody goes through trials in their life, and if I was in their situation I would want somebody helping me,” the high school senior said Sunday in a video released by Pender County Schools. “So I just try to do the best that I can to get out and help as many people as I can.”

And therein lies the point of community service — mandatory or not.

Some young people see a need and mistakenly think someone else or the government will the problem.

Young people like Mayce and others who volunteer to do good for their communities’ sake aren’t so jaded. They don’t just see a need; they feel the need.

Sometimes, again too often, young people only do things merely because an adult tells them to do it. Like the daughters of actress Lori Loughlin who were going to college because their mom had made up their minds and cheated to make it so. Or actress Felicity Huffman, who was sentenced to jail and 250 hours of community service after pleading guilty to getting a sham SAT test for her daughter.

Now that Giving Tuesday has become a staple of the post-Thanksgiving mindset, it’s the perfect time for parents to look their children in the eye and ask: What community service work are you doing?

Their knee-jerk reaction, while engaging their smartphone, video game or iPad might be, “I’m too busy.”

But you know better.

You should explain that there’s nothing wrong with “paying it forward” and that doesn’t mean only dropping a few bucks in the Salvation Army’s red bucket once or twice a season.

Sure, Huffman is fulfilling her community service hours. However, that’s part of a court order because she broke the law. Too many young people experience as much at their sentencing, too, so they view community service as punishment.

Huffman, for one, has daughter Sophia alongside her as she participates in a program for homeless women and sex trafficking.

And that’s but two reasons why it’s time for your talk with your teen regarding community service.

⦁ Deborah Simmons can be contacted at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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