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Helpful Work and Smiling Faces: MAD Day 2017

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Make a Difference Day encourages Bolles freshmen to meet the needs of their community. Faculty sponsors encourage the freshmen to assume leadership roles in future volunteering opportunities. Mrs. Gomez declared the day a success.

A total of 12 charities participated and offered a range of opportunities including helping the elderly at Taylor Home, preparing food for the homeless at the Sulzbacher Center, entertaining disabled children at Hope Haven, and cleaning up after Hurricane Irma.

According to Mrs. Moya Marks, the principal of the Bolles Upper School, this program started 5 years ago because Mr. Scott Smith, former Academic Dean, wanted to design a unique experience for the freshmen on PSAT day.  Brainstorming led to the idea of organized group volunteering around the city.

According to Marks, Mrs. Michelle Miller, a current 9th grade advisor and psychology teacher, came up with the name for this event: Make a Difference Day (MADD).
In anticipation of this year’s Make a Difference Day, many 9th grade students expressed excitement and curiosity about their vision of the day. Emily Lekas (‘21) shared, “I expect it will be eye opening for the whole school and will be a good experience to learn how to support our community.”

Some students looked forward to the day as a bonding experience. Jake McGraw (‘21) said he expected “a great deal of fun and camaraderie.”

Many freshmen approached  MADD with a positive attitude, eager and excited to serve their community. Maya Gopal (‘21) explained, “Anytime you volunteer to help others, even if it is only a few people, it is always successful.”

For the second time, Make a Difference Day was organized by Mrs. Jennifer Gomez, Ms. Kristin Mahshie, and Mrs. Moya Marks. Mrs. Gomez stated that the goal of MADD is, “to promote servant leadership in the Jacksonville community. We hope to expose students to greater needs in the community and encourage them to remain active in the organization they work with beyond just this one day.”  Ms. Mahshie added that this event, “shows our students that there are many different opportunities in which we can help the greater whole.”

According to Mrs. Marks, the school’s goal is to expose students to a variety of service opportunities in the community, and to provide a format for hands-on experience with service.  Mrs. Gomez and Mrs. Marks both said that the goal of MADD is promoting “servant leadership.”

The aim of MADD is to let students participate in their community and help others. Ms. Gomez said, “Bringing them back together and mixing up the groups for the afternoon activities provides the opportunity for them to discuss what different experiences they each had in the morning and how they feel they helped others.”

According to Mrs. Gomez and Ms. Mahshie, the morning seems too short for interested and engaged students. Mrs. Gomez stated that “They find the day meaningful and actually wish they could spend more time out at the location they go to.”

Echoing McGraw’s comments about camaraderie, Ms. Mahshie said that she thought it was “a great way for students to not only discover service opportunities, but also form bonds with their peers and even Bolles faculty and staff.”

The charities have constantly given positive feedback about the student efforts on MADD. The freshmen continued to serve the community in smaller groups upon their return to campus. According to Mrs. Gomez and Ms. Mahshie, the morning seems too short for interested and engaged students. Mrs. Gomez stated that “They find the day meaningful and actually wish they could spend more time out at the location they go to.”

Upperclassman, Savannah Majarwitz, expressed her memory of MADD and how it affected her. She explained, “I have more respect for the challenges the kids have to deal with everyday. The whole experience in general made me learn more about special education.”
The overall experience by the students this year was very positive. Lekas (‘21) shared, “MAD day showed me how fun, easy, and rewarding it is to serve the community, and I really saw that helping in ways that really inspire you greatly impacts the world.” Patel (‘21) stated, “What really caught my eye was the positive and heartwarming attitude the kids displayed, even though they each had their disability.”

MADD offers a day off from school, fun t-shirts, and quality peer bonding time. Not only was it a good experience to learn more about kids with different needs, but it was really fun to bond with classmates outside of the school setting.


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Helpful Work and Smiling Faces: MAD Day 2017