The spirit of giving

“Coat drive,” “Volunteers needed,” or “Canned food drive” is not exactly what you would expect to see on the chalkboard next to AP Calculus 2 problems. But my classmates and I are used to seeing those reminders by now. The constant announcements and Mrs. Flint’s smiling face are what make me realize that, although Calculus is important, there are some things in life that are much more important than a grade on an exam.

Mrs. Jennifer Flint teaches science and math classes at the high school, but definitely leaves her mark in other ways on both the students and the community. Most recently, Mrs. Flint and students volunteered for Victorian Christmas.

To help prepare for Victorian Christmas this year, Mrs. Flint asked some student volunteers to help paint Christmas scenes on the storefronts of downtown Williamsport. “Volunteering is really good for the community, and it was a lot of fun!” stated Sarah Niklaus. “The experience was wonderful,” said Sophia Erb. “Mrs. Flint made it so much fun, and she was very kind and helpful throughout the whole process.” Chloe Erb agrees with her sister about the experience. “Mrs. Flint inspires me to give back and think of others,” explained Chloe. “I always see her asking for volunteers and donations to help others in our community. It makes me realize it’s very important so I wanted to give back as well.” Although some of the student volunteers had never painted windows before, Mrs. Flint was there to support them. “She was super helpful and she brought a bunch of painting supplies, making it really easy for us,” stated Liam Ferry. “She told us our paintings looked great, even if they weren’t the best,” said Kayleigh Early. ” It was cold outside when we were painting, but she brought us gloves. She is the absolute nicest person.”

Elaina Stone volunteered at the YWCA during Victorian Christmas to help with the children’s activities planned for the day. “Mrs. Flint is the reason I volunteered at the YWCA,” explained Elaina. “I know she volunteers a lot, especially at the YWCA. She understands that these places need volunteers so she gives the students at our school tons of opportunities to help our community.”

I had the opportunity to volunteer at Victorian Christmas as a greeter in one of the homes on the tour. Dr. Zach Ritter was so enthusiastic to open his home to the people on the tour. Witnessing Dr. Ritter’s hospitality and the festivity shared between him and his guests was a rewarding experience.

Additionally, Mrs. Flint and the Williamsport Junior League organize Cinderella’s Closet each year. One of Mrs. Flint’s students, Jordan Robinson, recalls her volunteer work this past spring for Cinderella’s Closet. “The best part was seeing the girls face light up when they found the dress they wanted for a price they knew they could afford,” said Jordan. It was a great experience just seeing how kind-hearted and willing Mrs. Flint is. She has inspired me to take a look into myself and see how much more I could give, and to do something just because it’s right instead of thinking about how it’ll benefit me.”

Mrs. Flint also helps students get involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters. “Mrs. Flint buys little presents for all the children in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program so that they each have a gift for Christmas,” explained club member Kira Winter. “She also buys them candy for Valentine’s Day, supplies for the crafts we do, and snacks for each time we meet. The club really gives a place for children to be around young adults who can serve as mentors and role models for the kids, and it is a fun time for everyone.”

Another one of Mrs. Flint’s students, Simon Wallace, not only was able to help paint the storefronts downtown, but he was able to help out in a different way. “Mrs. Flint’s compassion inspired me to adopt one of the stray kittens she found in her neighborhood,” said Simon. “She has so much compassion for her students and really everyone she meets – including kittens. We named him Wentz and he has turned out to be quite the character–in a good way!”

The few hours I volunteered gave me just a small glimpse of how Jennifer Flint lives her life. I think I can speak for all of my classmates on this one…Mrs. Flint’s compassion and charitable heart, whether it’s with helping with homework or finding a home for a stray kitten, is something that inspires us all.

No matter the place one is volunteering at or who the volunteer work is for, Mrs. Flint shows all who know her that giving back to others is something we should all do. During this holiday season, my classmates and I each gave a little more than we might have on our own. And we owe it all to one of our favorite teachers, Mrs. Flint.

Thompson is a senior at Hughesville High School. Her column is published on the second and fourth Mondays of each month in the Education section. She can be reached at education@­