Students to volunteer at Panther Service Day

Cassie Buchman, Associate News Editor

Students will be able to choose from a variety of volunteer opportunities from around the community at the 14th annual Panther Service Day Saturday, April 23.

Lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. outside of Blair Hall, and transportation will be provided to the organizations at noon.

Beth Gillespie, interim director of civic engagement and volunteerism, said these are all nonprofits that need support.

“There’s no better way than to kind of use person power to help support the work the are doing,” Gillespie said.

Many of the organizations are ones that are used year after year, and there are two new groups this year students can volunteer at.

These new organizations are First Fruits Homestead, which is a site that is building a farm that donates its produce back to food pantries in the town.

They are also partnering with Lake Charleston Trails, where volunteers will be helping build new trails and caring for existing trails by taking out invasive species and picking up trash.

Standing Stone Community Center and Housing Outreach Prevention and Education are two groups that Eastern keeps going back to each year.

Individuals or groups can sign up, Gillespie said, and many groups often join the Service Day, such as many Greek organizations.

This is Gillespie’s first Panther Service Day that she is running, and though she said she is equal parts nervous and excited she is positive the event will go well.

During Martin Luther King Jr. Day, there was another opportunity for students to volunteer, but they stayed at the school as opposed to going to the organizations they were helping.

“What we’re doing on the 23rd are direct service project, so you’re going to go out, you’re going to do the work and you’re going to see the difference from when you get there to when you leave,” Gillespie said. “When you can look back and say we’ve spent the last three hours with this goal in mind and you’ve completed that goal there’s a lot of satisfaction with that and you can walk away knowing what you did has made an impact.”

She said the role of the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism is to make sure students know the value and true impact of the volunteer work on the community.

This year’s goal is to have 200 students sign up.

The Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism, Student Government, and Alumni Services are all partnering together to make this program happen.

Gretchen Butterfield, a sophomore Spanish and pre-occupational therapy major, volunteered at the Paradise Equestrian Therapy Center for Panther Service Day.

Butterfield chose this organization as she has been riding horses since she was little and volunteered with pets as a freshman.

At the center, she walked kids along with their horses and played games.

Butterfield has also volunteered for the play program at Charleston Middle School and the Mark Twain Mentoring program.

“I love being able to give back to the community,” Butterfield. “I’m a student here and I live in right here in Charleston and they have done so much for me it’s just nice to be able to give back to them.”

She said she has seen a lot of students who come once and end up coming back because they love it so much.

Butterfield said it is nice to find something else to do besides studying and hanging out with friends.

“Just sign up for something, be outgoing and be open to doing whatever,” Butterfield said.

People interested in volunteering can sign up at Registrations will be taken until spaces at different organizations are filled up, but it is first come first serve, so students are encouraged to register early.
Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]