The Do Something Club at Byram Hills High School undertakes simple projects to make a substantial difference. Started last year by Zoe Harris, a current junior at Byram, the club has already conducted numerous campaigns that spread smiles, increase climate awareness, connect the school community, and more. The club is part of the national organization, DoSomething.org, that is committed to “fueling young people to change the world.”
Zoe’s involvement with Do Something began in middle school when she was homebound due to a mystery illness. She was suddenly unable to walk unassisted, sleep, or partake in almost any normal activities, but rather than allowing this to remove her from the communities around her, it inspired her to get involved. “Even though she could do ‘nothing,’ she still wanted to do something,” shared Zoe’s mom, Heather Harris. And thus, she found the organization Do Something. “Do Something allowed me to help others without needing to walk and helped me connect with my community when it felt impossible to do so,” says Zoe.
Zoe held her first Do Something campaign, “Jeans for Teens,” in seventh grade, where she collected jeans to donate to teens in homeless shelters. Before she knew it, she had collected almost 500 pairs of jeans. After being home and feeling disconnected for so long, Zoe was able to help herself by helping others. Amidst COVID, the importance of helping those around us became even more apparent, and Zoe continued her involvement, “excited to be feeling part of something,” shared Heather. When she was in eighth grade, she collected toiletries and created bags to deliver to people living in transitional shelters. She started small, asking neighbors and family members for any extra products they had in their homes and ended with around 250 bags for donation; small steps led to a big difference.
A Club ‘Accessible to Everyone’
After seeing the impact she could have through Do Something, Zoe was determined to incorporate the organization into her high school. Last year, she began the club alongside Ms. DeRosa as club advisor. Ms. DeRosa teaches students with learning differences, and Zoe was determined to make the club accessible to everyone: “I approached Ms. DeRosa about starting the club because I felt this club would allow her students to help others like it had helped me when I was unable to walk. She agreed and the rest is history,” said Zoe. Heather also explained that Zoe “wanted to work with this particular population of students to show that we can all make a difference. Every single one of us can make a difference.” By helping others, the kids in the club are able to feel more confident, connect with their community, and value themselves as changemakers.
The club’s campaigns address a variety of social issues with a large focus on mental health. Last year, through the campaign “Bubble Break,” they created bubble bags for children in homeless shelters to teach them how to use breathing as a tool to help with anxiety. They held the “Mirror Message” campaign during the weeks of finals, APs, and regents, leaving inspirational notes on all of the mirrors in school bathrooms. “It’s the littlest things, but they have an impact,” says club advisor Ms. DeRosa. Zoe was touched when she “even heard someone say that they really needed to see that because they were having a bad day.”
Many of the club’s projects are also environmentally focused. Last year they held an “Unplug It” campaign to teach about energy waste. They hung up sticky notes around the school with facts about how much energy is wasted by leaving unused appliances plugged in. Ms. DeRosa noted that this seemingly small initiative sparked conversations and habit changes around the school as teachers in the faculty lounge shared that they now unplugged their coffee pots and toasters each morning!
The Do Something Club at Byram Hills High School shows each and every student that they can brighten someone’s day, make a real difference in their local communities, and, ultimately, change the world.