Teenagers in Sammamish have found volunteering as an effective way to pass time in the summer. These unique opportunities allow them to utilize their skills and passions while simultaneously making a positive impact to their community. Here is what three students are up to this summer:
Annika Renganathan, 16, a rising junior at Eastlake High School, volunteers at Mustang Math Tournament (MMT), a student-led nonprofit that organizes virtual math competitions for underprivileged elementary and middle schoolers around the world. Renganathan is a problem writing coordinator, which means she checks to make sure there are enough problems being written for each math subject, such as trigonometry and geometry.
She has been involved in math competitions for a majority of her life, but she was participating in them, not organizing them.
“Now I get to see what it’s like from the other side because I get to help make the questions instead of solving them,” Renganathan said.
She has been volunteering for MMT since freshman year and plans to continue until the end of high school.
Ria Gersappe, 16, also a rising junior at Eastlake, is the co-founder of Rainy Day Chefs (RDC), a nonprofit where volunteers cook and donate food monthly for a variety of women’s and homeless shelters in Sammamish and Redmond, such as the Friends of Youth and the Sophia Way. Gersappe is responsible for creating new recipes and works with her co-founders to cook meals for around 40 people at a time.
RDC has become a creative outlet for Gersappe’s biggest passion — cooking and creating new recipes.
“My favorite part is cooking the food to give to the volunteers at the shelter. Rainy Day Chefs gives me the opportunity to do what I love while helping the community,” Gersappe said.
Helen Daw, 16, a rising junior at Skyline High School, volunteers at Sibling Strong, an annual camp dedicated to reuniting foster children who were separated from their siblings by the foster care system. These siblings get to spend a week together doing a variety of fun activities such as birthday parties, swimming, and ziplining. The main event at the camp is a dance where the kids get dressed up and have a sendoff party with their siblings and friends.
Daw’s mother, Suzanne, helps to run the Sibling Strong camp in Washington, called Camp to Belong. She introduced Daw to the program and she loves to help her mom and the camp.
Daw’s role consists of collecting dresses, shirts, dress pants, formal wear, and accessories to create a free shop at the camp for kids to choose outfits for the dance. She also assists in doing hair and makeup for the kids to make them feel like they are getting it professionally done.
“I had one girl tell me she hadn’t been able to wear a dress in 10 years. Seeing the light in their eyes flash when they try it on is really heartwarming,” Daw said.