Successful start to community service this year

| Contributing Reporter

After two successful blood drives and a range of service activities, the Community Service Office hopes to continue to expand its programming.

The recent blood drives in September and November managed to collect more than 1,000 units of blood. Organizers hope that the drives throughout the entire school year will collect more than 2,000 units total.

Last year was the first time the University had a large single-day blood drive, and drives throughout the year collected more than 1,800 units. The year before, however, fewer than 700 units of blood were collected.

This year, the Community Service Office (CSO) also set up a leadership project in which the office can further support all the student-run community service activities by providing leadership training for student leaders.

The training will consist of different sessions to best help each individual student group contribute to the community.

“[The leadership project will] maximize positive impact and minimize harm [done by the student groups,” CSO Director Stephanie Kurtzman said.

Some sessions will focus on a certain issue, such as hunger, while others will be focused on a general approach, like philanthropy.

Next week’s session will focus on organizational structure of a student group. More than 25 students have already signed up for the session.

One other new step the CSO has taken this year is to have community service mentors. There are mentors in Brookings and JKL residential colleges this year, and the CSO hopes to expand the program in the future.

The mentors work with both the CSO and the Office of Residential Life to increase participation in community service activities among students in their residential colleges. They hope to increase attendance at already-existing activities and plan their own activities for their residents.

According to Kurtzman, the blood drives, like all other community service activities, are organized by University students.

“All of [the community service activities are] due to student leadership,” Kurtzman said. “Even if it’s the initiative of the CSO, it’s still student-run.”

CSO, consisting of three professional staff members, not only assists community service groups, but also offers its services to any student group that wants to do a service event. CSO has helped Ashoka, the University’s South Asian students association, with its annual Gandhi Day of Service, even though community service is not Ashoka’s primary goal.

Other community service activities, in addition to the blood drives, have shown much success so far this year, said Kurtzman.

Each One Teach One has expanded and now operates with 92 tutors. It has also been strengthened with a new curriculum and increased communication between the tutors to best help the students.

Additionally, many more service trips, known as Alternative Break trips, are being offered. There are more than 30 trips registered to take place during this school year.

Kurtzman is very pleased with the increase in trip offerings, as she finds the trips to be great opportunities to engage in community service.

“[This is] exciting for us because we think [the service trips] are valuable and it’s important for the students to have this opportunity,” Kurtzman said.

Freshman Ingold Huang, who receives e-mail newsletters from the CSO about community service events occurring on campus, said he finds the newsletters informative, although he has not participated in any activities yet this year besides Service First.

He said he would attend activities with his residential college, Lee/Beaumont, if it had a community service mentor.

“I would maybe participate, depending on how much work I have and what other commitments I have to other activities and friends,” Huang said.

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