Thrift Shop Debut — Will It Bring Back Seton’s Service Initiative?

Maia Graham , Student Journalist

Six hundred dollars will go toward the Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief fund, through the Hispanic Federation, after an incredibly successful first run for the Seton Thrift Shop

The Thrift Shop on Saturday, October 29th not only resulted in immense success, as it raised around $600 for the Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief, but will also hopefully result in an exciting change in the house system and service.

According to Olivia Boustani, the new Head of Houses, a fun ambiance greatly contributed to the Thrift Shop’s success. That enjoyable and fun experience is not often seen in many service projects as most students go out of obligation, but she’s hoping to bring back the spirit in participation. Olivia did make a special shout-out to the Hello Dolly! students, who got out of rehearsal to help out in the Thrift Shop, as they definitely increased attendance, but the shortage of volunteers is not a new development. So, how is the House system going to boost student engagement?

Essentially, it’s a matter of engaging a young, often reluctant to participate student body that feels disconnected from its community. While it’s not wrong to acknowledge a certain apathy towards volunteering in general, it is far more relevant to admit a lack of enthusiasm as most students either participate in service projects for those brownie points to put into their college applications or just don’t show up.

This year, our Head of Houses strives to change this pattern of decreasing involvement in service projects by stepping out of the common mold. First of all, the House system hopes to use the House Olympics as a competitive incentive, as this year service projects will count as one small event in the House Olympics, through which, each house can earn up to 50 points in each volunteering event, if they raise the most money, or if they gather the most volunteers. But aside from taking advantage of Seton’s “friendly” rivalry between houses, our new Head of Houses is finding new ways to boost student engagement through cultural heritage and education.

“Don’t be shocked when your history books mention me,” Olivia quotes Hamilton.

As a priority and motivation for this year’s service projects, Olivia Boustani is focusing on implementing cultural heritage and education into service. The Thrift Shop, as October was Hispanic Heritage Month, was an event that specifically went towards the Hispanic Federation, more specifically, towards the Puerto Rico Hurricane relief fund.  However, Ms. Boustani is also working towards incorporating cultural heritage into other aspects of the Seton educational experience, as she said, “I may not be able to change the curriculum but I can try”. For instance, Seton students and faculty may have noticed that during early October, mass was carried out in different languages: Italian and Spanish. Aside from mass or any other school events, Olivia suggests an Instagram page for the House system run by the Head of Houses and any other contributors, to try to bolster cultural education within the House system.

Service projects and activities that will actually appeal to the student body, not only through a stimulating and engaging environment but through a personal appeal, such as cultural heritage, will certainly help student engagement and participation. Our Head of Houses hopes that the house system will revert back to its original message and purpose of service within the Seton community through acceptance and inclusion.

“That’s want I want to leave,” Olivia says, “the excitement, the joy, and the message behind it all.”

If there is one thing that will summarize the intention behind the house system, it is the message of kindness and service, which Olivia is trying to promote, through a cultural initiative.