While J-Term is a time to get off campus for many Harvard students, winter athletes stay on campus to train and compete. This year, the wrestling team decided to devote some of its free time to community service.
Twice a week this January, the wrestling team volunteered for two charity programs—tutoring students at Mission Hill School in Boston and packing and sorting items for Cradles to Crayons.
“Our program is built on two pillars—integrity and discipline. And one of the things that go along with integrity is giving back to the community,” said Brennan M. Smith ’16.
The wrestling team’s commitment to community service is not new. Along with social and academic committees, the team has maintained a community outreach committee, currently headed by Shay I. Warren ’13.
“It’s a way of giving back after all that we’ve been given,” said Warren.
The wrestlers worked after school at the Mission Hill School with two groups of students helping with homework. While Harvard students often volunteer at the school through Phillips Brooks House Association programs, the number of available mentors falls during the holiday break. The wrestlers stepped in to fill that void.
“We give them something to look forward to at the end of their day,” said Smith.
While some of the wrestlers found the work challenging, they said they learned from the experience.
“A lot of times you forget what it’s like to be a kid,” said Warren. “It can be frustrating, but it’s a good chance to learn about people and how to motivate people to do something that’s good, but that they don’t want to do.”
Members of the team also volunteered for Cradles to Crayons, a program that provides underprivileged children up to age 12 with items that are difficult to come by like clothes, books, and toys.
Founded in Boston in 2002, Cradles to Crayons expanded to Philadelphia in 2006. As part of their service, wrestlers went to the factory to pack and sort items for distribution.
Members of the team said that the trips served a dual purpose—they not only helped the community, but also brought the team closer together.
“I think that a big part of it is us trying to focus on something bigger than ourselves,” said Warren. “The fact that we are all working hard for that greater good helps us all.
—Staff writer Jacob W. Lynch can be reached at email@example.com.