Programs G.I.V.E new students chance to volunteer


Cassie Buchman

Prowl leader Kallista Martin loads boxes of food to be given to the Charleston Food Pantry Saturday as a part of Jumpstart 2 G.I.V.E.

Cassie Buchman, Editor-in-chief

On and off campus, new students were out on Saturday volunteering for different programs as a part of Jumpstart 2 G.I.V.E.

Students registered in advance to volunteer for programs offered during the summer. These included helping out at the Douglas Hart Nature Center, working on the Lake Charleston Trails or volunteering at Camp New Hope.

About 400 students were in the Grand and University Ballrooms of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union, making fleece blankets for One Stop Community Christmas.

One of these students, Marizza Seling, a freshman music education major, is no stranger to community service. She would help out at her school and dad’s workplace, Caterpillar, back in Peoria, and has donated her hair in the past.

“It’s really nice,” Seling said. “It’s nice to know that somebody will get this blanket and they’ll need it.”

Kennedy Kindle-Reynolds, a freshman psychology major, said her mother chose the fleece-blanket making project for her — but once she got to the event, she was happy her mom did.

“I’m happy that we’re inside and it’s air conditioned,” she admitted. “I know the kids will appreciate the blankets.”

Students chatted among each other while cutting, tying and choosing fabrics for the blankets.

Prowl leaders and faculty members were around to help students as they volunteered.

Dianne Timm, a professor in the counseling and student development office, said as a faculty member it is important to make these connections with students during Jumpstart 2 G.I.V.E.

“(It) shows we’re a part of the community as well as others,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for students to connect with one another, and in a fun way show how important giving back is within the Eastern community.”

Renee Fonner, chair of One Stop Community Christmas, said seeing all the students work together to make blankets has been “incredible.”

“We just keep filling up the baskets, making more blankets,” Fonner said. “It’s awesome.”

One Stop Community Christmas serves seven counties in the area. These are Coles, Clark, Edgar, Cumberland, Shelby, Moultrie and Douglas.

In December, families in need can go to Lake Land College to pick up Christmas gifts and household necessities.

Children will receive a new blanket as a part of this.

“We’d love to have 2,051 blankets so every child has a blanket,” Fonner said.

According to One Stop Community Christmas’ Facebook page, 392 blankets were made at Jumpstart 2 G.I.V.E.

“Parents love the tie-dye blanket,” Fonner said.  “Not every child has a blanket. That’s the reality, so hopefully this will help.”

Annie Garner, the graduate assistant for the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism who helped coordinate Jumpstart 2 G.I.V.E, said she hopes students feel like they are making a difference.

“We try to pick sites where they can see an impact,” she said. “We try to do stuff where they are going to see their results right now.”

This impact was seen at Morton Park, another site for Jumpstart 2 G.I.V.E. At Morton, half of the park was set up as a mobile food pantry, while the other half was set up to give away bags of school supplies.

Prowl leader Kallista Martin said there was a long line that went through the park that was steady for about an hour.

“We came with two vans, we’re leaving with one,” she said.

Residents in need would check in with their name and address and take what they needed. Student volunteers helped them get their supplies and food and loaded them to the residents’ car.

“You can tell how appreciative they are,” Martin said. “It’s really nice to see that. It was a very nice experience, I’d say.”

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]