Students partake in National Volunteer Week to better surrounding community

Melissa Burrowes , Reporter

SUNY Buffalo State held its annual service project event last Monday in the Campbell Student Union to recognize National Volunteer Week.

National Volunteer Week is a national week to encourage volunteerism. The event was established in 1974 by the nonprofit organization Points of Light and was organized by the Volunteer and Service-Learning Center, or VSLC.

VSLC Coordinator Laura Hill Rao said this year will be unique in that students are planning the activities.

“It’s a student-led initiative,” Rao said. “They came up with the ideas, they came up with the plans and did every piece of the event planning.”

Allie Diamond was one of the four students who arranged the National Volunteer Week activities.

“Students should consider volunteering because it’s an awesome opportunity that helps them shape as a person,” said Diamond, an art major at Buffalo State. “Giving back is always really important and volunteering kind of allows people to grow in compassion for other people and helps them to be an understanding person.”

Volunteers at the event made “no-sew” blankets, which were tied together at the ends, to donate to Second Chance Home. Second Chance Home is a homeless shelter run by the Homespace Corporation for teenage parents who receive instruction from social workers on raising their children. They also made get-well cards to send to Women and Children’s Hospital, and bat and butterfly homes for donation to community gardens.

The bat and butterfly homes do not have a specific garden they will be heading to yet. VSLC will contact several gardens, including some they have worked with on past service programs and find out if they want them, said Aurora Schunk, VSLC Assistant Coordinator.

The National Volunteer Week event began at 11 a.m. and lasted until 1 p.m. The initial group of 10 volunteers grew to around 20 by noon.

Members of the Buffalo State Pom Dance Team were among the early arrivals to the event.

“We love helping out but we don’t get a chance to help out with the school enough,” said Arielle Eisenberg, a fashion major and the dance team’s vice president. “So we thought it was a good time and chance to, and it was something easy to do to have everyone involved with.”

Eisenberg added that more people should get involved volunteering.

“There obviously are always people less fortunate than you and it’s always good to help people,” she said. “I just feel that a lot of times people don’t do enough, or they’ll do it once and they won’t like, think about it in the right way.”

Although the dance team has volunteered before, this is the first time they have been involved with National Volunteer Week activities, said dance team member Amanda Rojo.

“It’s good to help other people,” said Rojo, a mathematics major. “You do good things you get good things, you know. I believe in karma.”

Students who want to volunteer have different options, including Alternative Break, an off-campus trip during school break periods to volunteer at community organizations, and service-learning courses that blend volunteering with the course curriculum.

Ada Garcia, a psychology major who also arrived early to the event, is part of the Alternative Break program.

“It’s just important to give, more than to receive,” said Garcia. “It’s a good feeling to just give what you have just to make other people’s lives a little better.”

VSLC also held its first volunteer recognition event Thursday at their Cleveland Hall office from noon to 5 p.m., where students were invited to come and talk about their experience volunteering.

Students wrote two cards with a before and after statement about volunteering and had their pictures taken, and in return received a cup of coffee. They also signed a poster with the Twitter hashtag, #BuffaloStateServes.

“We understand that we haven’t had a booming amount of students but we’re excited for the people who have come and we know a lot more people have served than are on our list,” said biology major Molly Diamond.

“I think it’s probably that students have to go to an out-of-the-way building, in Cleveland, and go up the stairs,” she said about the turnout.

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