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Giving Back to the University and Beyond

default article imageNo community, not even Monmouth County, has a lack of volunteering opportunities. There are many opportunities, both on and off-campus, which students can and should take advantage of.

You can find that some of the best resources for volunteering are right here on campus. Campus resources can take the hassle out of finding opportunities by providing services that can connect you with volunteering programs without you having to step foot off campus.

When it comes to finding volunteer opportunities, Marilyn Ward, Coordinator of Service Learning and Community Programs, is a person to know on campus. She works with individual students as well as clubs and organizations on volunteer opportunities on campus and in the larger community at hand.

She recommends that the first way a student can get involved on campus with volunteering is to join a club that deals specifically with volunteering. At the University, this includes Circle K and the Community Service Club. Other clubs also offer volunteering opportunities, but it may not be their main focus.

If you do not have time to join a club, there are usually many volunteering projects on campus. These include food drives, clothing drives, First-Year Service Project activities, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Relay for Life, Project Linus, letter writing for the troops, recycling efforts, and Greek fundraising events. Tess La Fera, sophomore, said that volunteering is a good activity to preoccupy one’s time. “I participated in the teach-in and relay for life on campus,” said La Fera, “and both were very rewarding experiences.”

Ward said, “We’re heading into the holiday season so there are many opportunities to help the community, especially through the Student Government Association Giving Tree. If groups would like to work with a family in need we have referrals from several community organizations.”

No matter what group you want to work with, whether it is the elderly, children, the homeless, or animals, there are ways to help. “Students are limited only by their imaginations in terms of helping the community,” said Ward.

Soup D’Shore is a soup kitchen at St. Luke’s Church in Long Branch. This organization was actually started by a group of students led by Professor John Buzza.

The hours of operation are Tuesdays from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Meal at Noon is another soup kitchen which is open from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm on Saturdays and is also located in Long Branch.

Students can also mentor high school students through a program called Project BAM or College Bound. Project BAM is sponsored by the Institute for Global Understanding and College Bound is another mentoring program organized by the Boys and Girls Club of Monmouth County.

No matter if you volunteer on or off-campus, overall, it should be a fun rewarding experience. One thing to remember is that no matter what type of volunteering you participate in, it will help the community.

You should make sure, however, that you enjoy the work or else you will not want to continue. According to “Volunteering and its Surprising Benefits” on helpguide.org, there are many ways that you can be sure that you will enjoy what you are doing.

One is to volunteer with an organization focusing on a topic or population that interests you. Next, you can match up your likes and dislikes with the objectives of your volunteer position. You can then figure out if you want to volunteer by yourself or in a group and whether you would like to volunteer during the day or at night.

Not only does volunteering help people around the community, it also leads to personal growth and many new opportunities. According to the helpguide.org article, it is easy for volunteers to meet new friends and learn important skills that can help students in the future when trying to find a job.

“Students get on board right away and do amazing things,” said Ward, “Their creativity and enthusiasm are incredible.”