The Wexner Service Corps is a program designed to inspire and unite Columbus-area Jewish teens to engage in service learning. The Service Corps is open to high school juniors and seniors to participate in a week-long service trip, followed by a year of monthly volunteering and Jewish learning.

On September 9, Wexner Service Corps was scheduled to help at an event called the Buddy Box 6000, where we would pack boxes of food for kids in need. However, due to rain, this event was cancelled and had to reschedule. Due to this change of plans, the Family Mentor Foundation asked for our help unloading trucks that they had set up for the event.

When we got to the Mentor Foundation, the founder of the program told us how the organization got started. She used to be a school teacher and had seen that many kids in her class were struggling with needs outside of the classroom, including food insecurity as well as emotional needs. She took a leap of faith and quit her job as a teacher in order to create an organization that would help more kids around the community. She saw this as an opportunity to make a greater impact by addressing the problem as a whole rather than only helping individual needs. We then started to help unload boxes off the of truck and later loaded full Buddy Boxes onto the truck for their first delivery. The Mentor Foundation is partnered with many different schools across the area, and said that many other schools are on their waiting list. They have been working to expand this program due to high demand.

After our service work, we started our learning and discussion. Since it was Rosh Hashanah, our learning focused on self-reflection. We started off in a large group and Rabbi Michael read off certain traits, such as an optimist or a pessimist. We had to walk toward the side of the room that matched our personality the best. We had to think about different traits that we possess, traits that we might not even think about in daily life. Next, we had time for our own self-reflection, including who we were this year and who we wanted to be next year. Using Jewish texts, we concluded that on this day, God judges us as individuals and in a group, and so we have to do self-reflection as well as reflection as a community. Even though the main event got cancelled, we had a great day of learning and service, and we hope to still participate on the makeup date of the event!

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Lydia Colvin is a junior at Olentangy Liberty High School and a member of Congregation Beth Tikvah.