The Sherman High School Leo Club spread a little love on Valentine's Day by volunteering at Grand Central Central Station's Dining Car Wednesday.
The group of roughly a dozen students spent the morning handing out gifts and essentials, including jewelry, socks, lip balm and candy. Many of the students also took the opportunity to sit down with those who rely on the center's resources as they ate breakfast to engage in friendly conversations.
“I think it's all about the joy of giving,” Grand Central volunteer Janet Fletcher said of the club's work.
Fellow Grand Central volunteer and purchaser Carol Noltensmeyer said the students and their gifts were a welcome addition to the daily offerings at the center, which range from free breakfast and lunch, to showers, laundry, computer access and placement services. Noltensmeyer explained that Grand Central's clients often tell staff that what they enjoy most are the social connections they make by coming in and she added that the students would help facilitate that.
“They really like the friendship,” Noltensmeyer said. “Some people really enjoy just having someone to talk to. It makes us feel good to know that they get that here and get to see some new faces today.”
Sherman High junior Lena Dungan said she and her fellow Leo Club members prepared for their morning of service by organizing the jewelry and then helped recipients pick pieces that matched their personalities. She said the reception they received was warm and welcoming.
“They're really grateful and thankful,” Dungan said. “There was one woman who came by after we were taking a picture and she was just saying to tell our teachers how we were all so kind had smiles on our faces. That was really nice to hear.”
Dungan said she was glad to have had the opportunity to help others and encouraged young people throughout the community to look for ways in which they could give back.
“There are a lot more opportunities out there than you might think, both in school and outside it,” Dungan said.
And Notlensmeyer said that's largely what the service project accomplished.
“I think the students have learned that we're here and we're trying to meet these needs in the community,” Noltensmeyer said. “A couple of the kids have already said they'd like to volunteer here and have asked for forms so they can get signed up.”
Brian Duane Thomas, who visits Grand Central several times per week, said it can be difficult for those who need a little extra help from time to time to ask for it. But with the students on hand to show them some added kindness on Valentine's Day, Thomas said recipients didn't need to hesitate.
“It's enough that they just show up to spend time with us here, but with the extra help with socks and the presents and all that, it adds some extra cheer,” Thomas said. “It's double the love.”