A Lynbrook High School student has been honored for his volunteer efforts at orphanages in Central Asia.
James Parco, a senior, traveled with a group of about 15 people last year to six different orphanages in the country of Kyrgyzstan, where he delivered items ranging from toys to toiletries and played with children as other group members performed medical evaluations over a 10-day span. The efforts were coordinated through the agency America World Adoption.
His service earned him the bronze-level President's Volunteer Service Award for volunteering between 100 and 174 hours over a one-year period.
"It was a huge honor to get recognized," said Parco, 17. Of volunteering, he said, "I feel like it's something everyone should do at least once in life."
One highlight, Parco said, was forming a bond with a 16-year-old orphan named Oscar, with whom he played video games on an old PlayStation console.
"He wasn't just some orphan from another country, he was a friend," Parco said.
Parco's other volunteer efforts include having served as a counselor in Lynbrook's Summer Playground program, where he volunteered five days a week with children in grades K-8 during the summers of 2017 and 2018.
He is also managing editor of his school's newspaper, a member of the cross country and track teams, and a member of the National, Math and Science honor societies.