Editorial 9.21.12: Students should be inspired to give back

More than a year ago, Service on Saturdays was first introduced as a program sponsored by the Lewis J. Burger Center for Student Leadership and Public Service in an effort to provide students, specifically those living in residence halls, with the means to volunteer on a Saturday morning.

At its first event, more than 75 students participated and donated their time to local organizations and charities.

“The turnout was fantastic,” said Katie McGinn, director of the Lewis J. Burger Center in the April 2, 2011 edition of the Scout. “There were more students than I had anticipated and the impact the students had on the community was huge. It was a big success.”

Service on Saturdays is coordinated by SERVE, an organization of students involved in giving back to the community. Approximately once a month, a Service on Saturday event is hosted, providing participants with a free breakfast and lunch as well as transportation to volunteer spots, which change each month.

This monthly volunteer event has given hundreds of students the opportunity to make a difference in the Peoria community and volunteer their time.

As mentioned in this week’s article “Lewis J. Burger Center receives national service award,” it was recently announced that the Lewis J. Burger Center will receive a $5,000 national grant in recognition of its Service On Saturdays Program.

It is exciting to see such a positive program receive not only recognition, but financial support that will allow the program to continue. And it can be assured that this grant donation is going to a great program.

It isn’t unusual for a college student to feel secluded, and almost isolated, from the neighborhoods and communities that surround the university. Students go about their daily lives, attending classes, completing homework, studying and attending extra-curricular events. It’s easy to become consumed in the Bradley bubble.

But it is important to remember the communities in which we work and live in.

As opposed to other philanthropic events that take place on campus, this program gets students into the city of Peoria, and into neighborhoods they otherwise wouldn’t go to.
In the local communities is where students can actually help. Instead of donating money, they can donate their time and skills to support many organizations that are in great need of an extra pair of hands.
The Jenzabar Foundation, which awarded the grant to the service program, clearly saw potential in Service on Saturdays to create a bigger and larger impact on the Bradley community over the next year. But the students who coordinate this program can only get so far without the help of the student body.
Now is the chance to make a difference. Before your four years are up make sure you step into the Peoria area through a different lens – and with motivation to give back.