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Service Awards 

Project Djibouti - Sarah Baldwin, Valdosta High School

One of the girls that is a friend and attends Valdosta High School knew someone who is stationed in Djibouti, Africa. She heard about the local orphanages found in the country and wanted to help. So she developed the idea to collect donations from kids and teachers here at the high school. These donations ranged from toys, clothes, diapers, wipes, personal hygiene stuff and other similar items. The outcome was truly incredible and everyone got involved. The project was a true success and I was able to help my friend get the word out and collect the donated items. All in all the project was one that tugs at the heart strings and causes one to be able to help others even if they are a whole continent away.

Out of this activity I hope to achieve awareness of other countries and their problems. Yes, the United States has problems of its own but, we are a blessed nation that can help those nations who are less fortunate then ourselves. The idea to get the school aboard, not just the students but also the teachers, caused a close community to develop and information to spread quicker. Recognition of the situation spread and there is a hunger to help and be a part of something that is going to a good cause. My goal was to help my friend who came up with the idea but to also get a school informed about something that they may never have heard about. We are able to change lives, we are able to do something that most high school students don't dream of doing and that was an opportunity that I wasn't willing to miss.

Personally the project taught me to stop being selfish. I hate giving away old clothes of mine so I guess you can say that I am a hoarder and that was my hardest personal leap that I had to make. I can ask people for donations, I can walk into a classroom and inform students and teachers about the situation but when it comes to my clothes I just couldn't part with them, but after realizing that my clothes were going to go to someone who would cherish them as much as I did made to separation not so bitter. Towards the end of the project I realized that everything was bitter sweet, bitter because I was giving away things that mattered to me but sweet because I knew that they would still be cherished.

The self esteem boost that I got at the end of the project was also a nice benefit. The media attention and local acclaim that my friend received meant a lot to me because she deserved it and I found myself captivated by the aspect of everything. The incredible reality that I was helping kids on a different continent that is thousands of miles away from my South Georgia home was incredible. The feeling that anything can be a possibility for a high school student with a dream became realistic and I was able to see a school rise to an occasion that some might not have thought possible. I achieved a new pride for my school and my classmates and that is something that I can truly take with me no matter where my future takes me for the rest of my life.

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About the Program

Every year Georgia’s students make great contributions to their communities by volunteering. To recognize their service the Georgia Commission for Service and Volunteerism (GCSV) instituted the Georgia Student Service Award.


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