The value of volunteering


Laurinne Eugenio

On May 8, to celebrate Mother’s Day, senior Laurinne Eugenio volunteered for ProduceGood where she and her family harvested organically-grown fruits that would then be shared to communities that are struggling from food insecurity. The mainly harvested oranges.

To celebrate Mother’s Day, my mom, older sister, brother-in-law and I woke up early and drove for about an hour to Oceanside to pick fresh and organically grown fruits. Upon arriving, we were greeted by tall, luscious trees—lemon, lime and orange kinds. 

Not only did we want to commemorate the Mother’s day weekend, but we also wanted to connect with the community. We signed up to volunteer for ProduceGood, a local organization that aims to “Build an active and engaged community committed to finding sustainable solutions to alleviate hunger, reclaim and repurpose waste and promote the health and well-being of all,” based on their official website

Indeed, harvesting the fruits from the trees was a tiring job. Despite the cool weather, my family and I sweated profusely. After two hours of picking fruits, we filled numerous orange-colored canvas tote bags with oranges. The bags were then transferred to a small truck owned by the ProduceGood representative, ready to be shared with the community.  

Although the experience was exhausting, it proved to be educational. Before proceeding to pick the fruits, the ProduceGood representative revealed that “approximately 20 percent of produce or more gets thrown out for cosmetic reasons like weird shapes, odd colors, or blemishes on a peel you don’t even eat. That’s 1 in 5 fruits and vegetables getting tossed into landfill even though they’re just as nutritious and delicious to eat,” according to Food Waste Feast

Beyond this, in San Diego alone, 450,000 people face food insecurity every day—that’s about 1 in 3 San Diegans who experience hunger, poverty and nutrition insecurity, the San Diego Hunger Coalition described. Learning about the prevalence of this issue felt alarming, but it also provided me with the motivation to finish the task at hand.

Furthermore, not only was the experience a learning opportunity, but it was also a rewarding one. It felt fulfilling to be able to help combat problems such as food insecurity that plague the community through volunteering. Personally, during my high school career, I was not able to dedicate countless hours to community service outside of Bonita Vista High (BVH). I did not have the free time, as I was too preoccupied with balancing both core classes and extracurricular activities.

If given the opportunity, I encourage fellow community members within BVH to volunteer because it helps broaden one’s horizons and upholds open-mindedness. As electrical lead specialist at Milton Electric Debbie Chan puts it, “When you volunteer anywhere, whether abroad or locally, you work with different age groups, ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds.”

Volunteering is a two-way street as it can benefit people as much as the cause individuals choose to help.”

— Laurinne Eugenio

Moreover, volunteering has many benefits as Western Connecticut University describes that volunteering fosters connection-making with the community and bolsters one’s overall welfare. A recent study from Carnegie Mellon University found that people “who reported at least 200 hours of volunteer work during the initial interview were 40 percent less likely to develop hypertension than those who did not volunteer when evaluated four years later.”

Ultimately, volunteering is critical, as it champions giving back to the community. It’s also important to note that volunteering is a two-way street as it can benefit people as much as the cause individuals choose to help. In a time when communities are rebuilding from the ravages of the pandemic as well as the daily struggles they face in life, volunteering allows people to connect with the community and make it a better place.