The University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Community Engagement will be hosting a volunteer fair on September 7 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the RC Cook Union. Students will be able to mingle with local organizations to find their ideal place to serve. The Center for Community Engagement encourages students to become involved in community organizations as a way to give back. Karie Chatham, who currently serves on the board of directors for the Mississippi Pediatric Cancer Camp, has volunteered as a tutor at a local school, food bank, American Cancer Society and Give Kids the World as an undergrad and currently works as a graduate assistant in the CCE office.
“You get out what you put in,” CCE Graduate Assistant Karie Chatham said. “When you’re in school, the more effort you put into your class the better your grade will be. Hattiesburg is your home, at least while you’re in college, and the best way to get involved in your community is to serve them and be involved. You will grow as an individual and leave a positive footprint on your local community.”
It is most often in times of natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey that volunteers wait to come out in waves. Hattiesburg has experienced several of these natural disasters in the past few years such as the tornado that hit USM’s campus in 2014 and the more recent tornado that destroyed William Carey’s campus earlier this year.
During these hard times, people opened their homes and wallets to come to the aid of those affected. However, as many opportunities as Hattiesburg is filled with, there is no shortage of service opportunities to fit every individual, schedule and need.
According to the CCE website, as large as the needs are, volunteering for organizations will allow one to make relationships, gain experience and skills and be of true service to the community.