Various volunteer opportunities coming up for students

AJ Fournier, Campus Reporter

A variety of different volunteer opportunities are available both on campus and off campus for students, with some new ones coming this fall.

One of these new programs is Teen Reach, where teenagers come to campus once a week to explore different aspects of campus, such as checking out the green screen at Eastern’s TV station.

“It will be a different activity every week,” said Beth Gillespie, interim director of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism.

Different volunteer opportunities are offered six days a week throughout each semester.

Gillespie said certain programs, like the mobile food pantry and Special Olympics, usually fill up quickly.

Another new program offered this fall is volunteering at the animal shelter.

With the animal shelter, volunteers go in and spend time with dogs and cats that have not been adopted yet.

“When the animals are in the shelter, the animals don’t get much one-on-one time with a person, and so if we can go and give them that attention that they are lacking, then in theory they might be less rambunctious when meeting families,” Gillespie said.

Another program offered is PLAY, which is a variety of different after school programs where students help children in different ways.

“The volunteers for the PLAY programs are volunteers who are committed to coming one to two hours a week for the next ten weeks, and the volunteers would be the staff, helping the students with homework and teaching them sports development,” Brown said.

Brown said a big service day this semester is a part of Family Weekend.

The Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism’s goal is for students to get their family and friends involved.

“We will have two projects during that weekend, one being at a mobile food pantry in a local community, and the other will be staying here on a campus where students and families can make fleece blankets for One Stop Community Christmas,” Brown said.

The university provides transportation to over 90 percent of the programs, Brown said.

“We tell students to not let that be a barrier for them picking an opportunity, because even if there is a program that we don’t provide transportation, we will do our best to see if we can get them transportation,” Brown said.

Gillespie said when students are giving back and volunteering, it gives people a positive view toward Eastern.

“Our EIU students give back unlike anything we have ever seen, and that is one of the things we have tried to do in the last 18 months, is help tell the community what our students are doing and help make the community stronger and make a difference in the lives of our neighbors,” Gillespie said.

Gillespie said that there would be just as many opportunities in October and November as well as September.


AJ Fournier can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].