JustServe Club at Brownsburg East Middle School Embraces Volunteer Work

Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photography Provided

The pandemic caused many people to become introspective and think about how they wanted to change their lives for the better. Others turned outward, eager to help people feel better during such a dark, difficult time.JustServe Club

“The world can be overwhelming,” says Elena Magnusson, an eighth-grader at Brownsburg East Middle School. “I wanted to create a sanctuary for people who felt like the world was a bit too much.”

Therefore, in August of 2022, Magnusson launched the JustServe Club at her school, a student-led club that focuses on volunteering and serving others. The club holds a monthly meeting in addition to regular leadership meetings, where participants vote on upcoming projects they will participate in. Past projects include assisting children in foster care, hosting a recreation night at Wheeler Mission, and making book pillows for patients and their families staying at the Ronald McDonald House.

“If you put a light into the world, you will see the light reflected back,” says Magnusson, club president. “In order to see change, you must be willing the help spark it. Besides, I’d rather be helping people than sitting on my phone all day.”

Michelle Linville and Zachary Beckman are the teacher advisors for the club.

“I was flattered Elena wanted me to be a teacher advisor,” Linville says. “I feel like this is definitely something that needs to exist in schools. I knew it would grow students and it would grow me too.”

Beckman agrees.

“Students are searching for and discovering their identity in middle and high school,” Beckman says. “Just like when we were all in school, there are highs and lows, and a variety of peer pressure and persuasions. This club provides guidance that will lead to a JustServe Clublife of purpose and empathy. Helping others raises self-esteem and builds confidence. It’s a great feeling to know you have directly helped someone in need.”

As with any successful endeavor, it’s been a team effort. Magnusson’s organization and leadership skills have been paramount to the club’s success. Linville has organized the meetings, ordered necessary products for the projects, and communicated dates and times to the student body. Amber Schroering, an assistant principal at the school, has wholeheartedly supported the induction of this new club into the school. Students in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades have helped plan, organize, create advertisements, and travel to the places the club has served. Plus, parents have provided service, supervision and transportation.

“It’s been an honor to be part of this dedicated bunch,” Beckman says. “Every person has the ability to change their world.”

Currently, roughly 15 students participate in the JustServe Club, but they would love to see that number grow. Anyone can join at any time during the school year.

“The JustServe Club helps students practice advocating for themselves and for others,” Linville says. “It plants a seed to serve and help others, which feels great as it keeps growing. We all have seen how volunteering for a good cause and service impacts others in a positive way. This is a win-win scenario. We’re reinforcing meaningful relationships within our group, while creating new friends in our community and opening more doors for other opportunities to serve in the future.”

The club members are in search of more advisors and parent volunteers. They are always looking for more students to serve.

Visit justserve.org to find opportunities to serve in the Indianapolis area. You can also serve remotely.

Why Students Love to Serve 

  • “I think serving is fun, especially with friends. It makes me feel good to make people happy.” – Aubrey Packard, grade seven
  • “I learned how much I truly love serving my community. This teaches me that if even just a few people start out, eventually we can make a change for the better.” – Maddy Haavisto, grade eightJustServe Club
  • “Service really can better our lives if you choose to soften your heart.” – Elena Magnusson, grade eight

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