Ross School senior Sarah Jannetti, a Sag Harbor native, is passionate about giving back to the community. For her Senior Project, she started the nonprofit CharityLegs, an online resource connecting high school student volunteers with charitable organizations.
Ross School and many other high schools on the East End and across the country require students to complete a certain number of community service hours before graduation (Ross students must volunteer 15 hours per year, for a total of 60 hours, as a graduation requirement).
Sarah has set it up so that charitable organizations post information on CharityLegs.org about their events or initiatives, along with the number of volunteers needed. Students can visit the website and click on “browse opportunities” to sign up for a service that works for them. Sarah says the website has been working well: “Many students want to volunteer their help, but it can be difficult to find meaningful opportunities that will work with a busy school schedule. Charities who proactively recruit volunteers often prepare to be shorthanded, because people will drop out at the last minute. This way works for everyone from the start.”
Sarah’s commitment to charitable work is not a new undertaking. She knew she would one day start a service-oriented company, so she applied for 501(c)3 status two years ago and officially established her nonprofit last year. “The experience was a great introduction to the business world, because I worked face to face with lawyers and other professionals through the process,” Sarah explained.
So far, CharityLegs has already had up to 50 users; Sarah’s goal is to increase that number to 200. Depending upon the season or need, the site will likely see a continued spike in interest as people learn about her company and students look for opportunities to serve in the community around the holiday break. The next upcoming event for which CharityLegs is helping to secure volunteers is the Human Resources of the Hamptons Polar Bear Plunge at Coopers Beach in Southampton on December 12. Students will also help out at LongHouse Reserve and local food pantries. “The tasks vary, but the work is always rewarding,” Sarah said.
Her Senior Project Mentor, Dean of Cultural History Carrie Clark, said Sarah has been amazing to work with: “She has an incredibly graceful comportment and approaches her work with careful consideration and extremely high standards. Her work ethic, compassion, commitment, and professionalism make her a real role model for her classmates and a huge credit to her generation. She gives me hope for our future, and it's been an honor and pleasure to work with her.”
This past August, along with volunteers from Pierson High School, Sarah volunteered at the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) Paddle for Pink benefit. “Some of the best experiences I’ve had so far were working with nonprofits like BCRF,” she said. “They are so professional and passionate about what they do. Playing an active role as part of a team that raised over $2 million in one event was wonderful.” The next priority for CharityLegs is increasing the number of organizations and volunteers using the network.
The process and hard work on her Senior Project is certainly helping to prepare Sarah for college, where she plans to pursue a business degree, hopefully at New York University Stern School of Business or another esteemed institution.