Caring Comets Fan Out Into the Community for Viva Volunteer
Nov. 5, 2012
UT Dallas student Amrutha Patil volunteers with cleanup duties at Groundwork Dallas, an organization that seeks to preserve and enhance the natural resources of Great Trinity Forest and the Trinity River.
More than 400 UT Dallas students, faculty and staff gave up the chance to sleep in on a recent Saturday morning so they could invest a few hours as volunteers with 32 nonprofit agencies.
Participants in Viva Volunteer, the largest single service day of the year at UT Dallas, fanned out across a 25-mile area to tackle community projects that ranged from cleanup work at a YMCA to walking dogs at area animal shelters to doing yard work for an elderly Richardson homeowner.
“It’s amazing how many people you can reach in a short amount of time,” said Matt Wyder, a senior accounting and finance major, who participated in the annual event for the third time. “UT Dallas as a whole can do so much for the community.”
Organizers set the annual service day to coincide this year with the national Make a Difference Day. Since 2009, Viva Volunteer has tripled the number of projects students have taken on. UT Dallas students were expected to positively impact 1,000 people served by local agencies.
The event serves a dual purpose, said Monalisa Amidar, who heads the Office of Student Volunteerism. “It gives students an idea of what’s out there among nonprofit agencies, and also lets our neighbors to get to know UT Dallas students,” Amidar said.
Many of the students who participate go on to continue volunteering at a nonprofit agency for the rest of the year, she added.
“It’s not us trying to inspire them to help. We’re just giving them an outlet to serve,” Amidar said. “We want to empower them to do this on their own.”
Michelle Armour, founder of Foster Kids Charity, and Monalisa Amidar, assistant director of the Office of Student Volunteerism, show the snack kits assembled for foster children.
Students and their faculty or staff advisers boarded buses on Saturday from 7:45 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., volunteered for several hours and then returned to UT Dallas to have lunch together and share stories.
“I loved coming here,” said student Demi Krieger, who volunteered at the Richardson Animal Shelter. “You don’t think of it as a place of need until you come and see for yourself.”
One group of students cleaned up flower beds and trimmed backyard hedges for Richardson homeowner Thomas Worthy, a 90-year-old widower who has lived in his home since 1955.
“They did such a good job, and it was so cold out I was worried about them,” Worthy said. “They must have put 20 bags of trimmings at the curb. I was so proud of what they did.”
Another group of students stayed on campus to pack 400 snack kits and activity books for Foster Kids Charity. The nonprofit agency serves Dallas-area children who have been removed from their homes because of abuse and neglect. The snack kits were then given to Child Protective Services for children in a four-county region.
“It was a wonderful experience,” said Michelle Armour, founder of Foster Kids Charity. “The students were very enthusiastic and efficient. They did it from their hearts. It warms my heart when I see young people working together so well.”
|Viva Volunteer: By the Numbers|
Adding It Up
A Broad Impact
UT Dallas students Ivy Tang and Patricia Mao hold some of the activity books they helped prepare for Foster Kids Charity.
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