Ava Emmons, Sophomore at Notre Dame Preparatory, and Shelley Dinges, Christian Service Learning Coordinator at Notre Dame Preparatory, talk about the service trip to Aravaipa Farms, on September 2nd-4th, 2021.

This was the first volunteer service trip for NDP since the pandemic. Approximately 30 students and four adults went to Aravaipa Farms which is in the tiny town of Winkelman, south of Tucson, AZ. During this trip the students did a shopping challenge for the food bank, worked at the food bank, and picked fruit to donate. Ava Emmons stated, “It was very well organized and fun for all the students who went.” Several of the students said that they want to do it again next year. The biggest struggle for most of these students was the lack of internet. They couldn’t connect to any kind of technology which is a big adjustment for most teenagers. In the end the lack of technology made the trip more peaceful and fun.  

The trip was very well planned and the students made a significant impact in the community. On Thursday the students started with a shopping challenge. They shopped at a grocery store for food to donate. They took all of the food that they purchased to a food bank. After they delivered the food, the students stayed and worked at the food bank for the afternoon, before heading to Aravaipa Farms. On Friday, there were a variety of tasks for the students including working in the garden, doing landscaping, making lunches and picking fruit in the orchard. Most of the students picked the fruit and they were able to pick and sort approximately 2400 pears. The fruit was donated to the food bank and schools with food programs. On Saturday, the students went on a refreshing morning hike before travelling back to Scottsdale.  

Notre Dame Preparatory High School, students, pick food items from a grocery list, September 2nd, 2021, in Scottsdale, Arizona. Students pick items from the grocery list in order to send the pears to Food Banks to help the needy. Staff Photo/Shelley Dinges 

For this service trip at Aravaipa Farms, students earned 30 service hours. That is close to the number of service hours that most students need for the year. Shelley Dinges said that it is unclear whether the school will offer more service trips during the pandemic. They may schedule another similar trip in the spring. 

Notre Dame Preparatory High School requires all students to perform service hours. There is a specific amount that students need to complete during each school year. By graduation, every student must complete a minimum of 120 service hours. Many students who have extracurricular activities or sports find it difficult to find the time to volunteer. Therefore, Notre Dame Preparatory created service trips to help students serve the community and earn their service hours. Notre Dame Preparatory has taken service trips to Tanzania, Africa, Machu Picchu, Peru, Rocky Point, Mexico, and several places in Arizona. These trips are a fun way to not only volunteer but also to see different cultures and help others.