September 2, 2014
Students Make a Difference Through Volunteering for Local Nonprofits
Nov. 11, 2013
Students from the Diversity Scholars Program volunteer at the Barack Obama Leadership Academy.
More than 380 UT Dallas students and staff got up very early on a recent Saturday morning, piled on buses and headed off to volunteer at 24 area nonprofit and community agencies.
Projects ranged from decorating elves’ hats for a production at Dallas Children’s Theater to painting rooms at the Richardson Boys & Girls Club to separating trash and recyclables collected from a creek bank in Richardson.
UT Dallas students invested more than 1,900 volunteer hours this year, saving the agencies more than $43,700 in labor expenses, said Monalisa Amidar, who heads the Office of Student Volunteerism.
Students volunteer at Gardeners in Community Development.
“We want students to be educated and effective volunteers. We help them learn about community needs and resources so that they can become active citizens. And it’s a fun way to do service together,” Amidar said. “Hopefully some of them will become long-term volunteers at these agencies.”
That appeared to be the reaction from Audra Jackson, who helped out with a fall children’s festival for an afterschool program at Voice of Hope Ministries.
“It was great,” said Jackson, an international political economy sophomore. “I would love to go back and volunteer. The organization itself felt like a small community.”
Kinsey Miller, a mathematics sophomore, volunteered at AVANCE-Dallas, which helps strengthen families through parent education and family support programs.
Miller went with fellow members of the student service organization Circle K International. Together they helped set up a health and wellness carnival, which provided face painting, healthy alternative snacks and outdoor games for children.
“It was really touching to be able to see at-risk families. It was eye-opening to me that there’s so much of a need. It was good for us to get off campus, and especially to help make a difference in the home life of these kids.”
“It was really touching to be able to see at-risk families. It was eye-opening to me that there’s so much of a need,” Miller said. “It was good for us to get off campus, and especially to help make a difference in the home life of these kids.”
UT Dallas staff and faculty helped facilitate activities at each volunteer location.
Annie Benjamin, assistant director of Student Life programs, went with a team of students to help clean at My Possibilities, a nonprofit day program in Plano for adults with disabilities.
“This was a really rewarding experience. It was helpful to learn more about this organization while we spent the day. Plus, our students learned to use a mop,” Benjamin said.
Three groups stayed at UT Dallas for on-campus projects.
Tiffany Peart, a program coordinator for the Office of Student Volunteerism, worked on campus with 19 students to assemble snack kits and activity books for Foster Kids Charity. The team put together more than 500 kits.
“We heard the lunch call, but some students didn’t want to stop working. We had some who were just in the zone,” Peart said.