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The Making of a Volunteer

Dylan Cheng is a Pingry student and longtime volunteer at America’s Grow-a-Row. Not only has he helped in the fields, but he also supported AGAR financially by getting donations to run a Tough Mudder as a creative Pennies 4 Produce Fundraiser.

Age: 17

Favorite Fruit/Veggie: Blueberries and green beans

First Time Ever Volunteering: My first time ever volunteering was with Church for Confirmation. In middle school would go to a soup kitchen at a sister church in Newark and would hand out food to individuals in need there. I did this from 6th – 8th grade.

Other places he’s volunteered: Sailing/Ocean Cleanup program, Pingry’s Rufus Gunther Day at a Food Bank, Making care packages for homeless

Reason for volunteering with AGAR: The first time I volunteered at AGAR was with my school for our annual Rufus Gunther Day. I came out my freshman year, 3 years ago, and harvested potatoes.  On this day, most students prefer tasks like making care packages in the school so they can socialize and take it easy. While the group I was with was reluctant at first, the hard work we put in at Grow-a-Row became extremely motivating as we saw the bins of potatoes fill up! Now, groups beg to be able to go to Grow-a-Row to volunteer.

How he’s supported AGAR: Harvesting potatoes, zucchini, apples, corn, beans, peaches and nectarines; Volunteering during Grow-a-Row Kids Farm Days; delivering produce to a Free Farm Market; Pennies 4 Produce Fundraiser by competing in a Tough Mudder

Benefits of volunteering: When I first started volunteering with AGAR I was interested, but not as personally invested in the mission as I am now. Working with kids during Grow-a-Row Kids Farm Days made him realize the importance of educating the youth about healthy eating and helping them have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Nothing can compare to the close connections made in the fields. I want to give them the same experience that I had on my first day: that “ah-ha!” moment of how rewarding harvesting can be

Why did you choose to do a Tough Mudder to support AGAR: I chose to do a Tough Mudder first because it combines my two favorite things: teamwork and pushing yourself past your limits! Then, I saw there was a huge focus around fundraising and thought of last summer being with the kids and how this would be a great way to support AGAR outside of the growing season. My teacher supported me in the race and we had a great team building day! We completed all of the obstacles in less than 3 hours and raised over $1,500 for AGAR!

Where you see yourself next: My dream is be accepted into the Naval Academy. My grandfather was in the Navy and had been a big role model for me. As I was looking into colleges, it really stood out as upholding many of my values such as teamwork, community service, and patriotism.

Words of Encouragement: Community service is something people often think they should do because it’s expected of them, but often times as you dive into it it can become a much more rewarding experience than ever expected. So go out, and make a difference!

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