December 4, 2013

Clean-up crew, Pioneer senior spearheads volunteer effort in Kokomo

Pioneer senior spearheads volunteer effort in Kokomo

By Amie Sites

---- — Drew Benesh, a senior at Pioneer Jr.-Sr. High School, knew he needed to do something to help when a recent storm hit Kokomo. Volunteers were needed to assist in the clean up of homes, businesses and other properties touched by the storm.

After talking with Principal Bob Brock, gaining approval and setting a plan in to motion, Benesh was ready to take action.

Benesh decided to gather fellow students and set a day to help volunteer in clean up efforts in Kokomo.

“I was just thinking, if something ever happened to my home, I would want others to help me,” Benesh said. “So I had to help others.”

Benesh spearheaded the entire project, which included organizing a week-long food drive with canned goods, transportation to Kokomo and gathering a group of about 25 seniors to help.

The group of Royal Center seniors went to Kokomo on Nov. 26 to volunteer at two locations.

Benesh was directed to Bridges Outreach, a non-profit organization in Kokomo, from the American Red Cross. The nonprofit feeds, tutors and mentors at-risk youth through various programs and bridges communities, schools and churches together, according to its website.

The group split in two and half volunteered at Bridges Outreach and the other group volunteered on a property affected by the storm.

Students operated chainsaws, cut down trees, moved logs out of the way and raked up debris from the house.

“I’m glad I did this,” Benesh said. “I would do it again.”

The volunteer effort he spearheaded became his senior project, a requirement for graduation at Pioneer Jr.-Sr. High School.

All seniors at the Pioneer Jr.-Sr. High School have to either complete a senior project or several hours of community service.

“I think it’s a wonderful project that gets kids involved,” Brock said.

Giving something back to the community is very important, Brock said.

“A lot of people think our society is circling the drain and this is wonderful proof it’s not,” Brock said. “Projects like this are helpful to kids and give them a good feeling to give back.”

Brock, who described Benesh as a good student, person and athlete, noted that he didn’t organize the trip to get attention.

“He [Benesh] did it because he wanted to do it,” Brock said. “He’s the type of kid who would have done it even if it wasn’t a requirement.”

The most beneficial part was learning how to organize a group and help in a group project, Benesh said.

Brock said he was proud of the seniors who volunteered.

“It shows the unity we have at the corporation and the culture our community has built within these kids to volunteer,” Brock said. “To give back and help others in need is a life lesson.”

Another beneficial part was helping people out, Benesh said.

“I was always told the best feeling is to help out someone who could never repay you,” Benesh said. “We took that in and everyone was on board to help out.”

Amie Sites is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5117 or Follow her: @PharosAES.