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Volunteering makes more powerful college experience

You read on the front page today about Service on Saturday, a new program launched by the Lewis J. Burger Fellows.

About 75 students headed into Peoria’s neighborhoods and gave a few hours of their weekend. It’s a nice thing to see, and it’s a nice thing to read about.

Bradley students give a lot of themselves and their time during their four years on the Hilltop. Tens of thousands of dollars, at least, are raised for various charities each year. A healthy amount of that is through greek life or large events like Dance Marathon.

Don’t get us wrong, those things are great. But for most students, they can only get involved in the greek events by donating money or watching a performance. And that’s fun, but it’s not for everyone. Dance Marathon and Relay For Life come around only once a year.

That’s why an event like Service on Saturday is so great. Students can pick one of a few places to go and help.

Then they can actually help. They’re not donating money. They’re donating time. And for a lot of organizations, especially in this time of social service cutbacks, that can be key.

What’s equally important to us, though, is that these programs get students into the city of Peoria, into neighborhoods they otherwise wouldn’t go to for one reason or another.

For most students here, Peoria is a stopgap between home and the future. We complain about it, we joke about it and some of us fear it. But it’s not a real place for most of us.

Hopefully by going into the community and working to better it, that perception will change for those who take the time. Peoria’s not Chicago. It’s not St. Louis. But it is Peoria, and it’s our home for at least four years.

So we encourage even more people to get involved with Serve on Saturday next fall. It’ll make Peoria, our – albeit usually temporary – home, even better. Oh, and it doesn’t look too bad on a resume, either.

There are still opportunities to get into the community and do some good, though. The largest is the Race for the Cure run/walk next month.

For years, Bradley has sent a team. It’s won awards. It’s raised a ton of money. It’s walking in honor of University President Joanne Glasser, a two-and-a-half year breast cancer survivor.

It has not, however, attracted the number for students organizers have hoped for.

So, here’s your opportunity to get involved. We’ve all been touched one way or another by breast cancer.

The race is May 7. You can sign up by going to:
bradley.edu/jointeambradley