Students volunteer around Buffalo for National Volunteer Week

The Volunteer and Service-Learning Center organized events last week for National Volunteer Week.

Students were able to participate in activities like building birdhouses, constructing water-proof mats and making blankets in the Campbell Student Union Lobby.

VSLC associate Aurora Schunk facilitated the on-campus events. Schunk said that participating in these events was beneficial to students because “they get a taste of doing hands-on volunteer work, giving them an opportunity to make a difference.”

Schunk said it is important for Buffalo State to participate in National Volunteer Week as a way to give to the greater community, mainly the West Side of Buffalo. Everything created during the events will be donated to local non-profit organizations.

The mats will be going to Friends of the Night People to be given to the homeless and the blankets will be donated to the Buffalo City Mission and Gerard Place, for the kids there that are “going through something that you don’t want any child to go through,” Schunk said.

The birdhouses will be donated to Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo and the agricultural program at Journey’s End Refugee Services to go in community gardens. The birdhouses will be seen “as a way for Buffalo State students to leave a little beauty on that local community,” Schunk said.

Holding these craft events with the intention of creating items for the homeless show that Buffalo State cares about the community, Schunk said. She said it shows the college does not see itself as separate from the community, but as one and the same.

“This is our way of extending our hands out to the community,” Schunk said.

The Buffalo State Community Academic Center on Grant Street is a part of the VSLC and the campus’s Center for Excellence in Urban and Rural Education.

AmeriCorps VISTA worker Zoe Fabian, who serves at the Academic Center, attended the events that took place throughout the week and ran a table.

Aside from being an alumna of the college and a current graduate student, Fabian does a monthly service corp to bring together Buffalo State students with youth from the local community to do a Saturday of Service.

Fabian also helps coordinate service learners and volunteers to bring Buffalo State students to the West Side.

“It’s a great thing to get the students to the West Side to get them in the neighborhood and a part of the greater community that SUNY Buffalo sits on,” Fabian said.

Fabian said that as a college, Buffalo State is growing their involvement with different parts of the community and increasing the number of service learning courses to get students off campus and faculty involved with the growth of the city and the community.

Fabian and Schunk said they are firm believers in uniting as a whole and avoiding the idea of separate entities to create a greater impact on the community.

Schunk said she felt that there was a great turnout and high student participation in the events last week and hopes to make this an annual occurrence.
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