Changing the world one random act of kindness at a time.

This year, Random Acts had the opportunity to interview the two students who spearheaded the Class Act 2021 Runner Up submission from MOT Charter High School.

Class Act — Engage For Change

When grade 12 students Karen Netto and Zainab Al Makhedhi noticed a lack of volunteering activities for their age in their state, they created a school club called Engage For Change. They wanted to create safe digital volunteer opportunities, accessible to all students, for 2020. Each week, Engage For Change hosted a different service project they completed as a group. Some of their projects included creating mental health awareness posters, hosting a mask drive, and writing healthcare and teacher appreciation cards.

Now that students are moving back to in-person classes, Engage For Change has bigger, in-person projects planned. With funding from Random Acts, the students intend to create and donate care packages to foster children in their community. The Engage For Change club is excited to grow its membership. Last year, they had about 60 members and at the time of the interview, had grown to over 80. They even added additional officer roles to their club to better manage their chapter.

The Beginning of Something Great

Engage For Change MOT Club LogoWhen Karen and Zainab first presented their idea for a volunteer club to school staff, they encountered some concerns about budgeting for projects. There were also some logistic concerns as volunteer groups were made in the past but saw little success. However, staff was very supportive of the plan to start with virtual projects and transition to in-person projects. The students took these creative challenges in stride, creating their own fundraising opportunities and driving student engagement. They offer membership to their club at no cost, a unique feature for clubs at their school. They also run an active social media account to keep students up-to-date with the latest volunteer opportunities.

Engage For Change had its first in-person meeting this year, 2021. “Our first meeting was a success,” Zainab recounts. “In fact, all the seats were filled and people had to get additional chairs in the room.” They had students brainstorm volunteer ideas they would like to do in person and then chose the top three ideas. Next, they had the students vote if they wanted to continue working on small projects or instead undertake larger efforts. The votes showed they wanted to tackle something larger. They have time dedicated each week to work on their volunteer activities. They will choose one big project per semester on which they will focus all of their time and resources.

Making an Impact

Not only do students who participate gain community service hours, they also gain a better understanding of their own community. The joy from volunteering also builds their motivation to continue making a positive difference. Students are now excited for the next project, regardless of how many volunteer hours it offers. Karen and Zainab both expressed how volunteering helped students feel more connected to their community and fostered a sense of belonging.

Random Acts wanted to know how the creators of Engage For Change felt about the growth and success of their club. “Personally, I felt really shocked by the amount of members that we had because it was definitely a demonstrated interest in making a change and helping build their interpersonal skills as well as helping the community,” Zainab said. Karen felt just as positive, saying “I never felt more grateful to be part of such a great organization and help build it up at our school. I felt really proud of our MOT community, that we could come together and do something like this. Everybody wanted to go above and beyond for the projects we worked on.”

The Future of Engage For Change

Student-made poster on the impacts of mental illness

One of the many student-made posters to bring awareness to mental illness.

On the topic of why kindness is so important, Karen was emphatic: “I would say kindness is probably the most important thing for high school students. You never know what anyone is going through, especially in a diverse, multicultural school like ours.” Zainab added, “If someone is kind to someone else, they will feel kinder and that will just continue to spread from one person to the next.” It is with this infectious kindness that the club hopes to reach more people in its community.

Karen and Zainab have big plans for Engage For Change. Ultimately, they would like to turn it into a non-profit they can run while in college. From there, they could help other schools start up individual chapters and begin affecting positive change in their own communities.

Want to Get Involved?

Kindness in our communities is needed now more than ever! If you would like to read more about previous Class Act submissions, please check out the Class Act Archives. If you would like to get more ideas on how to get kind remotely, take a look at the Random Acts Toolkit.