Passion for service

The Leadership and Service Center has long been a pillar of involvement at Carolina aimed at connecting students, faculty and staff to the Columbia community through service opportunities.

Beth Brink, a community service coach in the center, is passionate about challenging the USC community to better themselves and serve others.

“Between Service Saturdays, weekly service projects, or the monthlong Carolina Cares initiative, there is something for everybody wanting to get involved at USC,” Brink says.

Service Saturdays are once-a-month days of service that students, faculty and staff are encouraged to participate in. The Leadership and Service Center buses around 150 students to various sites around the Columbia area to perform service in a wide variety of capacities.

“We don’t want there to be any reason that someone can’t get involved in service,” Brink says. “That’s the main idea behind our philosophy in this office – let’s make it easy.”

The holiday season is quickly approaching and USC will begin its monthlong season of giving, called Carolina Cares, which enables the Carolina community to reflect on the joy of giving and spans three initiatives.

The center will be collecting donations for Harvest Hope Food Bank’s Holiday Boxes. Organizations and individuals can check out a Holiday Box to assemble and provide a holiday meal to a family in South Carolina. Those interested in assembling a Holiday Box or making a $15 donation to have one assembled on their behalf should visit the Campus Life Center.

The university also has a partnership with the Salvation Army that lets students, faculty and staff stuff holiday stockings for children in need.

The Leadership and Service Center also does Holiday Mail for Heroes through the American Red Cross that lets students write thank-you letters to U.S. service members.

“Everything ties together during the holiday season. There is a lot of need in our community and if we concentrate our efforts we can make a big difference,” Brink says.

The office will start handing out stockings beginning Oct. 28 and will be collecting them through Nov. 26. Carolina Cares will culminate in the Tree Lighting Ceremony, which will take place on Davis Field at 6 p.m., Dec. 3, to celebrate the holiday season and the positive impact of the Carolina community.

“I love Carolina Cares because it is a month where the emphasis is to give back, be it through service or tangible items,” Brink says. “Through Carolina Cares, we make the holidays happen for families in need.”

For those who seek a more direct, face-to-face approach to service, the weekly service projects on the center's website encourages everyone to make service part of a weekly routine. This kind of prolonged involvement is usually more beneficial for the agency as well as the volunteer. 

“We get so caught up with what we’re doing in our daily routines that we forget to be concerned about the community,” Brink says. “I would challenge the Carolina students, faculty and staff to seek our office as a resource to get involved through service.”

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