Serving the Dear Neighbor

Olivia DeSantis, class of 2020

Early in her high school years, St. Teresa's Academy senior Olivia (Liv) DeSantis saw an opportunity to strengthen STA students’ love of giving back to their communities, deepening their commitment to serving the dear neighbor without distinction. During her sophomore year, Liv created and introduced G.I.V.E. (Get Involved. Value Everyone.) as a new student-run extracurricular activity.

G.I.V.E.’s mission is to “help students recognize the importance of helping the dear neighbor and to create a lifelong love of giving back.” Participants volunteer at community organizations throughout the year, donating their time and treasures as needed. In STA’s existing Service Program, each student during her junior and senior years volunteers 90 hours of service to her chosen organization during Service Week and over the summer. G.I.V.E. serves as a welcome complement to this Program by opening the doors to students on all grade levels with volunteering opportunities at a variety of organizations, and with a flexible schedule.

In addition to providing occasions for students to get involved in their communities, through the organization, students grow as young women through leadership and service. Furthermore, the website states, “Whether packing lunches for impoverished elementary school students, handing out hygiene kits to the homeless, or simply smiling at fellow sisters, G.I.V.E. wraps each girl in the spirit of sisterhood and service.”

Liv expressed, “It [G.I.V.E.] furthers the sisterhood bond and it’s also in a more relaxed environment than in school. I’ve gotten to know girls and become friends with them that I would never have otherwise without G.I.V.E.”

As Liv’s senior year has progressed, she has concentrated on the continuation of G.I.V.E by creating a Board of Directors. The Board will consist of ten sophomore, junior, and senior students who are committed to striving to expand G.I.V.E.'s outreach and impact. Liv’s altruistic legacy will live on through G.I.V.E., the students it inspires, and the community it benefits.

G.I.V.E by the Numbers

As of fall of 2019, 232 girls were participating in G.I.V.E. (roughly 36% of the student body).

  • Students in all grade levels are volunteering their time. 
  • Over 15 organizations benefited from G.I.V.E. volunteers, including Harvesters, the Down Syndrome Guild, Girls on the Run, Operation Breakthrough, Cultivate KC, and Scraps KC.
  • One-hundred percent of students returned to participate in G.I.V.E. each school year.
  • Last year, students in G.I.V.E. volunteered a total of 858.25 hours and donated 115+ items.