On Jan. 27, organizations looking for caring and passionate Bradley student volunteers gathered in the Michel Student Center.
Tiffany Chambers, the Holiday Events Coordinator for the Salvation Army, shared a story about a past Bradley student volunteer who bought bicycles for a woman’s children through one of their programs. The student asked Chambers not to tell the mother who the bikes were from, stating that the bikes were not for them, but for her.
The Salvation Army is looking for volunteers for child care, shelters for the unhoused and food provision service, along with helping out with the Toy Shop.
The Toy Shop is an event for people in the Peoria area who might not have the resources but still want to provide their children with a magical Christmas. It has left many clients feeling cared for by a volunteer willing to go above and beyond for them.
“See a need, fill a need,” Chambers said.
Many of the organizations who were present are simply looking for people with the time and passion to help out in their community, like the Peoria Park District and the Mark Linder Walk for the Mind.
Some booths highlighted the opportunity for groups of volunteers, such as Greek life or clubs on campus. Habitat for Humanity Greater Peoria accepts groups on build sites for affordable housing, as well as homes for veterans and families in need, saying the only requirements for volunteers are a willingness to learn and work in teams.
Other organizations are looking to provide the interpersonal aspect of getting connected with the Peoria community. The Heart of Illinois Big Brothers Big Sisters is looking for people to one-on-one mentor students from local elementary schools for half an hour during the lunch period.
“I used to be really angry but having someone in my life is really empowering,” Alex Fosburgh, the Volunteer Enrollment Specialist, quoted one of the kids in the program.
Another benefit to volunteering is the internship opportunities that it can lead to, as well as experience in a student’s desired field.
The West Peoria Fire Department highlighted hands-on experience in a variety of professions including healthcare, engineering and pre-med.
Some are looking for volunteers in the education field. Central Illinois Friends is searching for flexible people who are open to speaking with local high schools about sexual health. The Peoria County Farm Bureau has opportunities for volunteers to speak to grades three to five about agricultural events that affect them.
The Goodwill Industries of Central Illinois offers experience and internships in social work and getting involved with the youth of Peoria.
“One of the best things is how many of our youth come back,” Lyndsie Gravemeir, the youth program manager, said.
If you couldn’t attend the fair but you’re still interested in pursuing volunteer opportunities, there are many options looking for support. The Braves Volunteer website or Bradley SERVE volunteer organization are great resources for getting involved in the Peoria community and helping vulnerable people meet their needs.