The concept of community service is central to the mission at Malvern Prep. Brandon Novabilski, the Friars’ backup goaltender chose to give back by joining a dozen or so of his fellow students on a week-long trip to Flagstaff, Arizona this past February to assist at a food bank. They spent the better part of a week preparing meals, and packing and distributing food.
Novabilski, a junior at Malvern Prep, is in his first year at the school. The Collegeville resident transferred from Perkiomen Valley.
He learned about the trip via a weekly e-mail that is distributed to the entire student body informing them about community service projects in the Greater Philadelphia area and elsewhere. Endeavors like the Arizona trip are not mandatory but they allow students to work toward completing their community service hours requirements each academic year.
“I talked to my parents about it,” Novabilski said, “and they though it was a great idea and a good experience, so I signed up along with the other students.”
The first day of the trip saw the students preparing, packing, and handing out bagged lunches.
“We’d make small lunches basically,” Novabilski said, “so we’d have people making sandwiches we were just making simple jelly/peanut butter sandwiches, ham with mayo or mustards. When that was done, they would add cookies and pack it in a bag.
“People would come up to the window that come to get food one of my friends would deliver.
We were there for roughly almost a whole day and it was really a good experience seeing the people because every time they would come up to the window they’d expected a normal worker but then they’d see the Malvern Prep boys and it kind of lightened the mood, that kids around the world are helping.
The following day Novabilski and the Malvern contingent spent time packing boxes of fruit at a warehouse packing boxes of fruit.
“We would pack boxes of apples, cucumbers, avocados, and pineapples,” Novabilski said. “Some of the fruit was set aside for area farmers to feed to their livestock. Some was donated to area residents who utilized the food bank for their groceries each week.
The students would aid the residents as needed. Novabilski’s most vivid memory of the trip is of assisting one middle-aged woman whose mobility was limited due to a leg injury.
“She was so thankful,” he recalled. “It really humbled me, how thankful she was. That was definitely an awesome experience. I think that was my favorite experience, helping that woman, because it made me realize how lucky I am.”
Novabilski took some valuable life lessons away from the trip.
“What got to learn more about what’s going on in the world,” he said, “and why people can’t really afford food at the grocery stores and why it’s so helpful to be involved at your local food bank and help out.
The trip resulted in Novabilski missing one of Malvern Prep’s games and one practice session, but had the full support of his teammates and his coach Bill Keenan.
“They did handle it well,” Novabilski said “Coach Keenan was not upset. He understood, all the players understood.
“(Keenan) understood that at Malvern Prep we want to help people around the world. We definitely want to make the world a better place. He really understood that.”