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Volunteering is a No-Brainer for Pleasantville Teens

ECHO Club makes a habit of giving back to the community.

Pleasantville is the kind of place where community service is cool.

"We have a very close knit community, so everyone likes to help each other out," said Christian Sarro, a senior at .

This is well-reflected in the high school's ECHO (Encouraging Children to Help Others) Club, which—at 175 members—boasts the largest membership of all school clubs.

"It's really a student-run organization," said Allison Steinberg, ECHO's faculty advisor. "We have 12 officers in the club who are really in charge of everything."

Sarro, along with Meena Zakher, also a senior, are the club's co-presidents. Both have been involved with ECHO since they were freshmen and have older siblings who also used to be a part of the service-driven initiative.

"It's a great way as a freshman to meet people and do community service," said Zakher.

ECHO is involved in many annual and ongoing projects, including regular tutoring for students at the after school, a holiday toy drive, blood drives and the district's CISP program.

Through CISP, according to Zakher, "We give one-on-one attention to children who have special needs."

ECHO is also very responsive to district and community needs and the officers are responsible for delegating volunteers to various projects.

Last month, for example, ECHO provided student volunteers for the , as well as tour guides for the high school after the .

"Thirty kids on [Veterans Day] raked leaves around the community," added Steinberg. "They knocked on doors to volunteer."

For Sarro and Zakher, running the club's officers' and regular meetings can be time consuming, but worth the hard work.

"It's a time commitment," admitted Zakher, "but the events are fun. It's not like it's weighing us down."

New this year is the club's sponsorship of a "One Warm Coat" drive in conjunction with . Coats are being collected at both the church and high school through Wednesday, Nov. 30.

"They will be donated to [the Grace Church Community Center] in White Plains," revealed Steinberg. "It's nice to donate locally and make a difference."

"As of now, we have 10 bags full of coats," said Zakher.

When projects like the coat drive come up, the club works to make them annual traditions, explained Sarro.

"It's such a large group, so we want to give everyone an opportunity to do something they would like to do," Zakher added.

And the other 173 members of the club can't seem to get enough of the community spirit ECHO embodies, as most freshman who sign on stay involved all four years of high school.

And it doesn't stop there.

"When I go to college, I'm sure I'm going to join a community service club," said Sarro.

Agreed Zakher—"What you'll find here in Pleasantville is there are no [community service] requirements; many kids do their own things. Pleasantville is really just a special community where kids do community service just because they want to. Service is a part of our lives."

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Andrea Daria November 21, 2011 at 02:56 PM
Wow..I was in ECHO in the early 90's when I went to P'ville High...glad to see it is still around and going strong!
Nick Sarro November 21, 2011 at 08:39 PM
Proud of you guys!!

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