By Crystal Mutilitis, Clinician

Pathways’ community service and leadership club, known as PALS, has been busy with meaningful volunteer projects since the start of this school year. Students have been busy over the past month dedicating their time to volunteer and to develop their leadership skills. In November, students focused on helping those less fortunate and dedicated their time to Elijah’s Promise, a soup kitchen and food pantry located in New Brunswick, NJ. Snacks were generously donated by Wegmans and PALS volunteers came together to organize the snack bags to be given out to individuals who frequent the soup kitchen. Students also decorated the brown paper bags with pictures such as fall leaves, flowers, trees and decorative art. In total, Pathways donated 108 bags with granola bars, fruit cups and water bottles, and Elijah’s Promise staff were extremely grateful.

The many benefits of volunteer work are apparent in the activities PALS students participate in. Students gain confidence by trying new things and building a sense of achievement, while also making a difference and having a valuable positive effect on others and their community. PALS club allows students to meet new people that they may not have interacted with otherwise and gives them the chance to be part of a group. Students learn new skills and take on new challenges, working together, planning and problem solving-all great skills to build leaders and for students to take into their futures.

For the month of December, PALS students will focus on giving back to their community around the holiday season. They will be planning a holiday party for Carteret High School special education classes. Students will dedicate their time to set up decorations and treats for their peers and they will also lead the students in a holiday craft. This activity will build social skills and relationships between peers while creating a safe and comfortable environment for all involved. We are looking forward to our 2022 plans and continuing to broaden students’ leadership potential.

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