As volunteering increasingly becomes a trend, the Center for Community and Civic Engagement at The University of Southern Mississippi is offering multiple volunteer opportunities throughout the 2015 spring semester as well as in the summer.
Upcoming community involvement opportunities offered directly from the center this semester are:
Meaning of Service on Feb. 25, March 18 and April 8
Read Across America on March 2
Alternative Spring Break March 7-10
the Big Event March 21
National Volunteer Week April 12-18
Okatoma Creek Clean up April 17
Relay for Life on April 24
Project Serve Canada May 9-15.
Last year, students at USM had a collective total of over 100,000 community service hours contributed by general volunteer service, Greek Life, Luckyday Scholars Program and campus clubs and organizations.
“One of the missions of our office is to help the student body to connect with city of Hattiesburg and to demonstrate how the university impacts the community and vice versa, and we feel that getting students involved in the community will also aid in their studies,” Program Coordinator for CCCE Christopher Ferrell said.
Students’ involvement has been particular in the past few years as incoming students represent the generation who has volunteered before college. The number of volunteer service hours done by students at USM has been increasing for the past three years and continues to rise.
In the 2011 – 2012 school year, students contributed 50,955 total hours; in the Fall 2012 – Spring 2013 year, students volunteered a total of 68,052 hours and in the 2013 – 2014 school year, students volunteered a total of 103,540 hours.
Whether students are required to volunteer for a service learning course or want opportunities to volunteer and explore places on and off campus, CCCE offers community service opportunities and information for classes involving service learning.
To coordinate its events, the center receives calls, emails and other means of updates from community partners, planning on dates, times, locations, the number of volunteers that can be accommodated and whether an event is a one-time occurrence or continuous.
Community partners involved with the center and aid in providing these opportunities to the USM community are Edwards Street Fellowship Center, Salvation Army/Boys and Girls Club, Hawkins Elementary and Alders Gate Mission, among others.
“I’ve volunteered through the CCCE and I loved it because the staff has so many connections with the community and makes it easy to gain volunteer hours,” junior biological sciences major Jessica Jenkins said. “A couple of my classes have required community service hours and different scholarships and programs require service hours, so I can always find something to do on or off campus whether it be continuous or a one time activity.”
Several community service opportunities and break trips are available through the CCCE and others for USM students and faculty such as tutoring 4th-8th grade students for Campus Link AmeriCorps, an academic support program which is recruiting minimum time members (who will receive a monetary educational award) for the 2014-2015 program year.
Relay for Life is a nationally known event and campus-wide awareness fundraiser for cancer research and will take place on the Hattiesburg campus in April.
Students get one hour of community service by joining the CCCE in its monthly discussion series on the impact of community service on one’s life in the Meaning of Service event offered. Opportunities are made available at Aldersgate Mission, a computer-based learning program to assist children from grades K-8th from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. during the week at the Aldersgate Mission.
The Phi Kappa Phi Book drive will be going on Feb 23-27 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Donate your gently used children’s books in the drop box located at Thad Cochran lobby (Feb. 23 25-27) and Union Lobby (Feb. 24).
The Alternative Spring Break event in March will involve the CCCE and the Department of Recreational Sports spending a few days of spring break in the caves of northern Alabama for service, camping, and caving.
Project Serve Canada is a volunteer experience relating to sustainability scheduled for May 9-17. The CCCE and students will be staying at the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario to gain experience in sustainability like gardening, farming and planting trees. Informational sessions on the trip will be held Feb. 13 at 12p.m. and Feb. 23 at 2p.m in HUB 104.
Volunteer hours are made available throughout the semester as several events are being hosted through the center and through other organizations. Americorps, College Access Plan and REACH are some of the grant-funded programs offered if volunteers commit to the community partner for at least a year.
Students are advised to pay attention to announcements as many community service opportunities are presented throughout the year. Students are encouraged to log their service hours online through the CCCE website.
“Volunteering and community service help connect to others and lets you see needs of other people while helping with kids, working in a food pantry or an impoverished area and allows you to see the differences in areas around the community,” Ferrell said. “It allows students to build networking opportunities and get to know other people with like minded goals.”
The Center for Community and Civic Engagement on the Hattiesburg campus has made available information on any events, community service opportunities, or break trips in the Hub 104.
For more information about the Center for Community and Civic Engagement call 601.266.5074, visit their website at www.usm.edu/center-community-and-civic-engagement, or visit CCCE on social media sites including Twitter, Youtube, Instagram and Facebook.