More than 75 students gave up sleeping in Saturday to devote their time to others.
Four local non-for-profit-organizations, including Midwest Food Bank and Girl Scouts, received help from Bradley students as part Service on Saturday, a program sponsored by the Lewis J. Burger Center for student leadership and Public Service.
“The turn out was fantastic,” said Katie McGinn, Interim Director of the Lewis J. Burger Center. “There were more students than I had anticipated and the impact the students had on the community was huge. It was a big success.”
The event was open to all interested students. Volunteers were provided breakfast, lunch and transportation to volunteer sites at no cost.
“The idea really developed because student said they wanted to volunteer but didn’t have transportation or didn’t want to go alone,” McGinn said. “Other schools offer service programs like this and it was a need [at Bradley]. With this program volunteering is accessible for everyone and it’s a one stop shop event. Now students don’t have to worry about transportation, they can volunteer with their friends and they don’t have to awkwardly call agencies.”
Sophomore international business major Brianna Wenger said she was happy there was a volunteer opportunity she could participate in.
“Since it is the weekend it is easier for me to volunteer because it is hard to find time during the week,” she said.
Wenger said she has volunteered in the Peoria area before but it wasn’t as easy as participating in Service on Saturday.
“I have volunteered at the Salvation Army before but I had to skip a class to catch the bus and I was not comfortable walking by myself,” she said. “But today it was comforting being with other students and is great because they provided transportation.”
The Crittenton Center, which provides crisis services, child daycare and family services to the community, was one of the volunteer locations chosen for Service on Saturday.
Volunteer and Special Events Coordinator at Crittenton Jennifer Simmons said it meant a lot that students were there to help.
“Right now many of us have taken on extra work and hours to meet needs,” she said. “Numbers have increased quite a bit since last year. “
Simmons said students who volunteered at the Crittenton Center participated in activities such as washing windows and walls, putting up flyers, writing thank you cards and putting together teacher appreciation bags.
Senior Emily Smith said she was participating in Service on Saturday as part of a floor program and said she enjoyed working with others to make people’s lives better.
“So many people have impacted my life out of love and I wanted to give back,” she said. “It’s fun serving others and I get more out of it than I am giving. Being here to help and to get to know other people is rewarding.”
McGinn said they plan to continue the program next year, having Service on Saturday three times during the semester.
“This was just a teaser to get the word out and gain student interest,” she said. “That way we could figure out what students like and what to change.”
The Lewis J. Burger Center organized this first event, but next year there will be student leaders who will coordinate the program.