Himani Patel just wants to help.
Help the community.
Even help her classmates.
So, at the end of her sophomore year at Land O’ Lakes High, Patel founded Impact Service — a volunteering club, run by volunteers for volunteers. The club will help student volunteers connect with meaningful volunteering opportunities that are outside the school, making it easy for members to help the community.
In less than two years, the club has grown to more than 80 members, who have donated hundreds of service hours to local charity organizations. They have helped Metropolitan Ministries, Habitat for Humanity, Feeding Tampa Bay and others.
“We are the middle man. For the lack of a better term, we’re like customer service for our members, making it as easy as possible for them to volunteer or find a place to volunteer,” Patel said. “We have a lot of clubs at school that do volunteering inside the school, like IB (International Baccalaureate) events and prom and things like that, but not many organizations here that make an impact outside of school.
“We’ve strived to create an environment where everyone is genuinely passionate about helping in the community,” she added. “I didn’t create this group for volunteer hours. I created this club for those who are really passionate about helping others less fortunate.”
Patel, an avid volunteer herself, formed Impact Service, knowing there were many who wanted to give back to the community, not just in her high school.
The response was overwhelming.
At more than 80 members, it is one of the school’s largest clubs, plus more than 488 hours were completed by club members last school year.
The club also raised $635 (the most of any organization within the school for donations) within six months and donated to multiple charities, such as Feeding Tampa Bay, Akshaya Patra, Mental Health America and American Heart Association. The club was even invited by Big Brothers Big Sisters to assist in the Gasparilla Publix Run earlier this year.
“We connect them with the organization because I do want people to experience actually going to the Feeding Tampa Bay warehouse and volunteering,” Patel said. “Then, they are putting in the work, sweat and tears and can collaborate with the same passionate people who genuinely want to help the community.
“With some clubs, you always see numbers dwindle, but not us.”
While volunteer hours aren’t required to graduate from high school in Florida, those hours are required in order to be eligible for Bright Futures Scholarships. But Patel said that’s not really the point of the club, nor are members even using Impact Service to log volunteer hours.
In fact, most times, members already have the required hours to be eligible and are volunteering because they genuinely want to.
“Our club helps facilitate students getting volunteer hours because they know we’re getting them to places that are actually focused on making an impact,” she added. “My main thing was I wanted to help my community, so the hours are a side note. “Impact members genuinely want to be involved with these organizations and volunteering,” she said.
With that kind of dedication from Patel and the members, it makes being the club sponsor an easy job — just ask Dora Gallagher.
“Oh, yes, it is super easy because (Patel) is in charge,” said Gallagher, who teaches Spanish. “She does everything. She looks for the places to volunteer, does the contact, sets up the dates and times and informs all the participants. Honestly, I don’t do that much (laughs).
“She is on top of everything and making sure the club is doing exactly what the goal says it is setting out to do.”
Gallagher tells students Impact Service isn’t like other clubs, in that they actually put in the work and set out to help the community in meaningful ways.
“A lot of clubs are just that — a club or a name or don’t do much,” she added. “This one is actually participating in volunteering in several places that make an impact in the community.
“As a teenager, to see her do that, it’s impressive, and I’m impressed to see that they are actually volunteering. Other clubs I have sponsored, which were student-led, didn’t do much — not this one.”
As Patel heads toward graduation in May 2024, she plans to hand off leadership of the club to very capable hands that will continue it when she heads to college.
But that won’t stop Patel, as she plans to turn the club into a 501(c)3 (when she turns 18), so it can be an organization outside the school. She also plans to get Impact Service a website, all the while creating the same type of on-campus club at whichever college she ends up attending.
“I really just want to help people in the community, especially those who are underprivileged, and really, my ultimate goal is work for a nonprofit for underprivileged kids who can’t afford health care,” the IB student said. “The reason I created Impact Service was to help the community.
“Our whole purpose is to make the world a better place.”
Impact Service Club
Details: Founded by Land O’ Lakes High senior Himani Patel, Impact Service was created to connect high schoolers with meaningful volunteering opportunities. The club has donated time and resources to multiple charities, including Metropolitan Ministries, Habitat for Humanity and Feeding Tampa Bay. The club only includes Land O’ Lakes High students now, but Patel wants the club to become a community-wide effort, and others are welcome to join.
Membership cost: $15 for entry and shirt
To learn more about Impact Service or to join, email .
Published November 01, 2023