These days, it seems college students are far too consumed with themselves. It’s not their fault, completely. With paper deadlines, part-time jobs, socializing and trying not to kill your roommates, time goes as fast as a six pack at the frat house. But chances are, you have a little time each week when you’re not doing a thing. Why not put down the Wii controler, click off the World of War Craft and help someone else for a change? In other words, volunteer.
Many volunteer opportunities are available throughout the Lansing area. Michigan State University has an entire department dedicated to connecting students with such opportunties. (That’s right, I’m talking to you, Spartans.).
MSU’s Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement has helped students become volunteers for the past 40 years. Last year alone, over a third of MSU students were involved in at least one volunteering experience.
Programs in Lansing schools are among the most popular. So for all you future teachers, pick up a piece of chalk and get to work.
"Requests to our center have been pretty stable around here lately," said Karen Casey, the center’s director. "For one thing, MSU has a distinct and concerted commitment to get students involved in the community. Also I think that, on the part of students, there’s a renewed interest in the community. It provides students with a form of citizenship," she said.
Since 2002, Casey said requests for student volunteers have doubled. With our recent economic slump, the center’s focus has shifted to those in serious need.
By using the center’s resources, community partners become less burdened, while still receiving the help they need. For those not associated with MSU, Casey reccommended contacting the Capital Area United Way Volunteer Center.
Many volunteers will tell you about the self fulfillment that comes with doing something for someone else. But it also gives you an opportunity to forget about yourself completely. Before long, you may just realize there are bigger problems in the world than missing the season premiere of "Grey’s Anatomy" (Sept. 24, by the way).
Here’s a sampling of local volunteer opportunities:
Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement Connecting MSU students to various volunteer organizations in the area. (517) 353-4400. www.servicelearning.msu.edu
Allen Neighborhood Center Volunteers needed for weekly farmers market, seniors, or The Bread Basket. (517) 999-3922. www.allenneighborhoodcenter.org
Capitol Area District Library Work in the Book Burrow used book store in Downtown Lansing or help shelve materials. (517) 367-6300, cadl.org Capital Area Literacy Coalition Become a professionally trained literacy tutor. Credits available at MSU for taking part. (517) 485-4949. www.thereadingpeople.org.
Capital Area Humane Society (517) 626-6060 Capital Area United Way Fund raising and community service opportunities in Lansing. (517) 203-5000. www. capitalareaunitedway.org.
City Rescue Mission in Lansing Serve meals, make beds. (517) 485-0145. www. lcrm.org Habitat for Humanity (517) 374-1313 Refugee Development Center Normally a two-hour work shift, varying from teaching to childcare. (517) 482-2252. www. refugeedevelopmentcenter.com.
Salvation Army of Lansing Help in the Community Kitchen and other programs. (517) 482-9715, ext. 42