Warrior Words: Wilton - Don't give up on volunteering

Ryan McElroy

Ryan McElroy

Hearst / Connecticut Media

Volunteering in Wilton has always been a large part of my life as it is for many other residents in this town who wish to improve our community. Whether it has been the Wilton Garden Club’s conservation and beautification efforts around town, the Wilton Kiwanis Club’s food drives throughout the year, or smaller, individual projects, Wilton has always been devoted to community service. In addition to helping local organizations and service projects, volunteering has brought many residents together as friends. During the recent pandemic, however, many of the services that we normally perform around town cannot be done and the people we have worked alongside have been separated from us. While the health and safety of our town is the clear priority, during this period we should strive to help in whatever way we can and to not forget our shared belief in the importance of service.

For the past 17 years of my life, I have always known that my town has many people who want to work with and help their neighbors. I have taken this belief to heart in my life, having volunteered through Boy Scouts for the past seven years. The organizations I have helped range from the American Legion Post 86 to Wilton Library, the tasks being anything from spreading wood chips to carrying books or guarding a flower sale.

The one constant in all of the different community service activities I have participated in is the people. No matter what the job is, the volunteers are excited to be there and they care about what they are doing. From the newest Boy Scout to the older Eagle Scout, these volunteers believe that what they are doing is important and they take pride in the end result. Even those who start off less enthusiastically volunteering their Saturday morning or afterschool quickly become involved in the steady pace of the work, moving 10 boxes here, drilling there, digging a hole this way, and they cannot help but feel immense satisfaction after finishing a meaningful project. However, with the health concerns from coronavirus, community service has been especially difficult and many programs and projects have been necessarily stopped. However, the idea of volunteering is essential to Wilton and connects the people who live here, and we must think about what we can still do safely, not dwell on the projects that we cannot currently accomplish.

Over the last eight months our community has lost many opportunities to volunteer, and we cannot know when they will come back. However, the fact that we are in a new reality with the pandemic does not mean that we should abandon community service that for so long has brought Wilton together and helped our town. There are still ways to help Wilton and the people here right now. Find a way to act on a personal level, make a donation to a local organization or support an individual you know is struggling. Join small, responsible groups of people that can volunteer together with the appropriate safety measures. Do everything safely and take precautions, but do not give up on helping your town.

Ryan McElroy is a senior at Wilton High School. He shares this column with three classmates.