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Holiday service

FLO spends break helping others

Published: Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 22:01



Fish Aides members Mallory Montgomery (from left), Jordan Mettica, Kate Rohrbough, Kathryn Haerr and Taylor Stephens cut phonics cards at Renew Charter School.

When the freshman leadership organization Fish Aides decided to replace its annual winter ski trip with a service project a few years back, its intention was to help others. But somewhere along the line, members found themselves receiving as much as they gave.

Thirty-three members rung in the new semester this way by volunteering for a week in New Orleans, La.

Taylor Stephens, freshman visualization major, was one of the Fish Aides who volunteered for his last week of holiday break. Serving at a different location each day, Stephens said the group volunteered at a food bank, a homeless shelter, a struggling school district and a children’s home.

“We served at the New Orleans Mission, which is kind of like a homeless shelter in the heart of New Orleans,” Stephens said. “It was an amazing experience. There was something so humbling too. I tend to forget how privileged I am and how much I have even when I don’t think I have very much.”

Blake Barnes, sophomore business administration major and a co-chair in Fish Aides, said the group cleaned and organized paperwork at a local school, where he also spoke to a seventh grade class about his college experience.

“We met this kid named Cory, who randomly said he loved engineering,” Barnes said. “We asked him, ‘So Cory, where do you want to go to college?’ And he said, ‘I’m like 90 percent sure I want to go to Texas A&M.’”

Barnes said the student lit up when he realized they were from A&M and continued to ask questions about how he could also attend.

Cash Fields, Fish Aides director and senior university studies major, said this was the fourth year Fish Aides has served in New Orleans.

“This winter trip used to be a ski trip,” Fields said. “We switched my freshman year from a ski trip to Colorado to doing a service trip to New Orleans.”

Fields said the main purpose of the trip was to unite the organization through service, but making a resolution to service is something for every Aggie to consider.

However, Stephens said too many people make resolutions, only to forget them soon after.

“I don’t even think that it should just be a resolution because I feel that, a lot of time, resolutions are remembered for maybe a month and then you kind of forget about them,” Stephens said. “I think service should be maybe like a goal for your entire life.”

Although Barnes said he has not made any distinct resolutions, this trip reminded him of the importance of giving back to others.

“I look at myself, and I want to serve and take each day to serve — whether it is a huge way, a small way or whether it is picking up a little gum wrapper on the bus before you are leaving,” Barnes said.


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