Groups seek student volunteers

Mar 4th, 2009 | By | Category: Campus News, Community Features

Abby Jo Moore

Contributor

Last Wednesday’s volunteer fair in the Plaster Student Union hosted over 50 different organizations, all looking for motivated college students just wanting to help out.

With opportunities ranging in focus from dog-lovers to multi-lingual tutoring and bikers for a cause, students with a variety of interests can find a position unique to their desires.

One such opportunity exists at Christian County Animal Shelter.

They are looking for volunteers to do “a multitude of things,” said Lisa Haney, a representative from the shelter.

They need student support to run the thrift store that funds the shelter, to feed and walk the animals at the adoption center opening next month and even transporters to drive animals from one location to another.

“It’s like a dog relay,” Haney said. When dogs need to be transported to a shelter in another city, students can take dogs with them.

Haney described it as “ideal” for college students because they take the dogs on their trips home to see family and drop them off when they arrive.

Haney has worked in animal rescue for over 15 years now, and her reasons for it haven’t faltered. “It’s just saving these dogs that have no chance—that’s the amazing thing,” Haney said.

The shelter has already saved numerous animals that would have otherwise been euthanized because of overpopulation, and they look to expand that success with student volunteers. Check out http://www.cc-as.com to find out how to get involved.

The Literacy Center provides another option for volunteers to choose from, placing students in various elementary school settings in order to help kids with their homework and play games with them during recreation periods.

“These kids will fall in love with you,” W Roy Roworth said. “A lot of these kids, when they go home at night, don’t have anyone to nurture them. . . .Our focus is to get them through school.”

As a friend and a role model for these children, the student volunteers “give them a different perspective,” Roworth said—a different perspective on what they can become. He emphasized how the volunteers, by doing so, become “all the difference in these kids’ lives.”

For students with an interest in multi-lingual volunteer opportunities, many programs need help with their children from backgrounds where parents speak very little English.

The Literacy Center places volunteers in these after-school programs that focus on English as a second language. Roworth can be reached at wroyroworth@missouristate.edu.

Other groups, such as the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, provide short-term volunteer opportunities for students looking to participate in sporadic events. The group hosts various fundraisers throughout the year, two of which are Walk MS and Bike MS.

Walk MS takes place in downtown Springfield with three, six, and nine mile walks. The routes remain completely accessible for wheelchairs and scooters, so all kinds of participants can join. Afterwards comes lunch at Outback Steakhouse, so Heather Hodges, Development Coordinator, encourages all to “come out for a 4-hour shift and have fun.”

Bike MS involves a little more endurance. A two-day ride of 150 miles, the event starts in Springfield as bikers move to Joplin on day one and then ends at the same place when bikers return on day two.

“It’s so much fun,” Hodges said. “It’s a big, big machine once it starts.”

Hodges’ favorite story to tell involves a client with MS who, although he can’t physically walk or ride during the events, never misses his chance to participate.

He makes signs to thank all the volunteers for supporting him, then goes down the line “high-fiving all of them,” Hodges explained. Excitement lit up her face as she recalled the energy he brought to the cause.

Students paraded the different booths during the volunteer fair, scouting out various possibilities that would fit their focus.

As a therapeutic recreation major, junior Carly Scott utilizes volunteer work as a key element in her field.

In the past, she has participated in Champion Athletes and Habitat for Humanity, among various other organizations, but she doesn’t want to stop there. “I’m always trying to look for new places,” she said.

For Mindy Towe, a senior Psychology major at Missouri State, she’s “just now getting started.” Although she’s worked with various agencies in the past, she needs ideas of what to do because of her soon approaching graduation.

She enjoyed the idea of joining the Down Syndrome Group of the Ozarks. “I’m really going to try to get involved with that,” she said.

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