Editorial: Volunteering is a vital civic, economic responsibility

Staff Editorial

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In grade school, we were implored by teachers to volunteer. We were encouraged and sometimes forced to get involved in our communities. Classes and busloads of us took time out of the school day to clean roadsides, soothe the elderly and ailing, care for animals and create care packages for any variety of tragedies. We accepted that helping others less fortunate than ourselves was a noble and necessary task.

Then high school rolled about and we stopped volunteering as much. Of course, we said we wanted to help—many of us truly did. We simply could not find the time for it anymore. Unless volunteership was a graded requirement, we usually skipped over it entirely.

College is a great opportunity to break the cycle of complacency. Many new students have to change their lives drastically when they begin college. While it is stressful to change every comfortable rhythm, the college upheaval is a great time to start down new paths or to reconnect with lost passions and values.

This is the perfect time to reconnect with the childlike passion intrinsic to volunteership. College (especially early in a year or semester) is the perfect storm of drive, motivation and flexible schedules.

For those readers who have forgotten their drive to give back, we offer a rationale. Our society exists in a social and economic hierarchy, for better or for worse. Consequentially, there will always be someone worse off than the next person.

However, the existence of a hierarchy does not absolve those more fortunate of the basic duty to help their fellows. Think back to grade school: did your teacher tell the class to love and celebrate the people around them regardless of their statuses and income? And were you notified to disregard this rule when you passed into adulthood?

Eastern offers several opportunities to give and to give back in the first few weeks of classes. Though Jumpstart to GIVE has already passed, the Volunteer Fair is still upcoming, and Charleston has many other year-round volunteering events and organizations, some of which have kickoffs within the month.

All students (and residents, for that matter) have some commodity that is useful to some philanthropic organization. Whether that skill is medical expertise, language skills or simply free time and empty hands, there are opportunities nearby for all sorts of people.

For instance, students who are good with children might consider volunteering with Girls on the Run, which coaches young girls in self-confidence and self-advocacy. Students who prefer working with adults might look into the Newman Center’s Amigos and Friends, SACIS or Habitat for Humanity.

Recent events have also created the necessity for volunteers. Though a single student might not be able to help the rescue efforts aimed at flooded Louisiana, a group together may make all the difference for a few people.

Every community of every size has room for improvement. Civil projects and paid efforts cannot account for all the good in an area; at some point, the citizens themselves must decide to put forth the effort.