"Catch the Volunteer Wave!" proclaimed a banner as students of Darien High School filled the school's North Gym on Friday, Feb. 1, for the 10th annual Volunteer Fair hosted by DHS and the Community Fund of Darien.

The event consisted of 47 volunteer agencies, including service clubs, with the help of the DHS Parents Association in an effort to reach out to the high school community for service and leadership opportunities in Darien and other parts of Fairfield County. Lisa Stout, the Community Fund of Darien's interim executive director, played an instrumental role in making the event possible this year and in the fair's development over the past decade.

"The goal is to expose our students to volunteer opportunities that they might not have been aware of or exposed to and encourage involvement in these opportunities," said Assistant Principal Ellen Spark of the objective behind the yearly fair.

As an added incentive to get more kids interested in volunteering, T-shirts with an original design are given out each year to students who participate in the fair.

Students were asked to visit various tables and receive two signatures from separate organizations in order to get a T-shirt. The theme of this year's T-shirt and of the volunteer fair as a whole was "Dive in." The unique design featured on the fair banners and T-shirts was the creation of DHS senior Kelly Kosnik, who heads the school's Art for Action Club, whose goal is to promote social causes through various artistic medium.

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In describing her feelings about the fair, DHS junior Hollis Perticone said, "I love it. It is a great way to find activities and community services that I would have otherwise not known about. Last year's fair was where I got involved in the clubs I do now."

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., students from every grade wandered from booth to booth signing up for activities when they weren't busy receiving handfuls of pamphlets and candy from each organization. Practically every activity and volunteer interest was represented by the different agencies, including the Darien Fire Department, Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk and Waveny Care Center in New Canaan.

"The volunteer fair gives us the opportunity to get to know students who are interested in joining the Depot, especially students who want to join The Depot later in high school, if they hadn't when they were freshmen," said senior Jenny Bealle, who is a co-president of the Student Governing Board of The Depot. "Kids who have already been in high school for a year or two have a better idea of what The Depot is and what it means to get involved, so we always welcome new applicants.

"The volunteer fair led me to join The Depot my sophomore year."

The Depot is a teen center that is run by a group of 70 kids who collaborate in planning events for the middle and high schools. The volunteer opportunities include Safe Rides, Kids in Crisis and clubs, such as Students Against Destructive Decisions.

Last week, Bealle and other members of the organization received a donation of $300 from Kaye Leong, assistant treasurer of Darien Rowayton Bank, for The Depot's annual wish list.

Mac McDonough is a freelance writer.