From July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020, students at Georgia Southern University logged 48,457 hours of community service, a 4.4% increase compared to the year before. According to the Federal Agency for Service and Volunteering, the hours are equal to more than a $1 million value.
Around 36% of the service hours logged were completed through the Georgia Southern Office of Leadership and Community Engagement (OLCE). Community Engagement Coordinator Jordan Wilburn said the hours logged helps both the students and organizations that receive the service.
“I feel excited when I see such a significant investment of time from both the community organizations that mentor our students and from the students themselves,” Wilburn said. “I think it speaks to the promise we all share to care for our communities and to learn from one another. When I look at the thousands of hours of service our students log each year, I feel confident that our future is bright.”
OLCE offers dozens of service opportunities each week that benefit both on- and off-campus communities. Senior finance major Iyanna Dandrea has volunteered for a variety of events through OLCE’s service initiative, Serve912, which provides students with access to weekly calls for volunteers.
“In every aspect of OLCE, they strive to offer and implement different opportunities that cater to the needs of the community as well as the interest of the students,” Dandrea said. “My favorite part about service events was helping to meet a need. Whether that was spending quality time with residents at the nursing home or helping to tag clothes and sort toys at the thrift store, I was able to help and be a blessing to someone else.”
Wilburn said by doing community service, students gain confidence, soft skills and real-world experience, which help them grow personally and professionally. Senior biology major Ashley Avila said her perception of the community changed after doing volunteer work.
“My favorite part of volunteering was getting to know and serve the local community of Bulloch County,” Avila said. “Before volunteering, I associated Bulloch County only with Georgia Southern. Serve912 opened my perspective to the diverse local community. I think it is important to do community service because it allows you to become an active member of positive change.”
Part of the service hours logged last year were done during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wilburn said the pandemic has created obstacles to doing community service, but OLCE is working hard to circumvent them.
“We are getting creative in an effort to continue providing students with access to service opportunities and the community with the needed support,” she said. “We have bulked up our newsletter webpage here to include virtual on-campus and off-campus volunteer opportunities, as well as opportunities that are specifically needed in response to COVID-19. We’re also offering small, daily, on-campus service activities that can be completed safely and independently and that benefit a local organization.”
Dandrea said community service is especially important during times like these.
“Most nonprofit organizations rely on volunteers in order to serve the community,” she said. “Without the help of volunteers, many organizations would struggle tremendously to get the work that they need done.”
To learn more about OLCE or to sign up for a community service event, visit https://students.georgiasouthern.edu/LeadServe/.