Community service can often be a term associated with a collection of hours a student has to earn to fulfill some mandatory requirement. It typically isn’t given much thought other than seeing a signature on a piece of paper. But, for some students, it is more than that. For some, giving back is a passion and a life mission. One such student who has dedicated his life to making life better for other people is senior, Jack Meilleur.
When Jack was in third grade, he attended the Macy’s Day Parade with his family. A day that was supposed to be filled with fun took a sad turn when Jack noticed a young boy in a torn jacket sitting in a cardboard box. The boy was the same age as Jack and, at that moment, the harsh reality of poverty reared its ugly head. Sadness and empathy set in and Jack gave the young boy a twenty dollar bill, his only spending money for the weekend. This is where it all began. It started with Jack asking for new clothes to donate in place of birthday presents and grew into his commitment and unwavering passion for Project 351
Project 351 is a non-profit organization anyone can participate in once they reach 8th grade. Each town sends a representative that will partake in various community service projects, as well as learn how to begin their own. Once a student commits to the Project, they can work their way up to become ambassadors.
To get a better sense of the wonderful community service work that Jack has organized, I sat down and asked him a few questions about his involvement in Project 351.
Jack was first intrigued by project 351 through the work that they did with community service: “From 3rd grade to 7th grade I did a clothing drive for foster kids in Fitchburg. It was for winter time so they would get clothes for Christmas.” Jack went on to say that he has “always loved to do community service work.”
Throughout his time in Project 351, Jack has participated in multiple food and clothing drives, while simultaneously learning how to begin his own. “The food drives occur in the fall and are donated to local food pantries. The clothing drives occur in the spring and are donated to Cradles to Crayons, which is a foster program.” Although Project 351 ends for Jack this year, he most certainly plans to continue his exemplary community service work throughout college and the rest of his life.
Jack’s life has changed since joining Project 351. He has seen homeless children, soup kitchens, and underfunded schools and churches. His experience has made him realize that “real help” isn’t only for the poor, rather it can be for anyone that might need a little boost in their life.
After years of hard work and dedication, Jack has been awarded the Kraft scholarship of $20,000 dollars. The scholarship is awarded to students who exhibit strong community dedication, and those who have embodied the “patriot way”, meaning exemplifying charitable and integrative qualities. Jack has certainly done this and more and the Nashoba community could not be more proud. Congratulations, Jack and good luck next year!!