Carolina still cares

Students have many opportunities to volunteer, help our local community

It feels good to give back to your community, to take a step back and see the bigger picture. But being new to college or not knowing which organization works best for you can sometimes make volunteering a difficult task. Luckily, the Leadership and Service Center offers plenty of opportunities to get involved in the community, and there are nonprofits all across Columbia that need help.

Service Saturdays are the perfect way to give back for someone with a busy schedule. Usually hosted about once a month, take a morning to help the greater Columbia community. Students can pick which organization they would like to assist the morning of the event but you must preregister for the event.

“It’s an incredibly easy way to dip your toes in the water of service, and the Leadership and Service Center provides transportation and food, so all you have to do is show up,” says Gabrielle Jabbour, a fourth-year supply chain and operations management and marketing double-major.

Looking to make a greater impact? Participating in the Alternative Break Program lets students travel to other communities throughout the Southeast to help make a difference. Volunteers provide service for the entire day, and while there is an affordable fee for these trips, the cost is well worth it.

Jabbour says that after going on a trip last spring break to Merritt Island, Florida, she better realizes how humans effect their surrounding environment. She also made a new group of friends that she continues to volunteer with today.

If Florida is too far away, a food bank located right on campus might be more your style. Gamecock Pantry is in McBryde and provides provisions for fellow Gamecocks who struggle with food insecurity. Students can volunteer or donate food.

Likewise, Harvest Hope Food Bank provides food for the hungry in the greater Columbia area. Harvest Hope has multiple initiatives and needs volunteers to sort, pack and prepare food for meals.

Having a passion for education and kids can also lead to different service opportunities like Cocky’s Reading Express or the Community Engaged Campus Experience for Youth.

Cocky’s Reading Express travels across South Carolina helping improve reading skills of elementary school students with the help of everybody’s favorite mascot. Meanwhile, the youth campus experience brings students from low-income schools to campus to encourage a love for higher education, and they need Carolina students to give tours and have lunch with our guests.

Students who want to help animals can also find volunteer work at shelters in Columbia, including Pawmetto Lifeline. The no-kill shelter needs people to socialize animals, walk dogs, foster a pet or hold a variety of other positions. However, this opportunity is more long-term with Pawmetto Lifeline requesting people serve for at least eight hours a month for three months.

Through these service opportunities, UofSC students can carry on the Carolina legacy of giving back to the Columbia community. A legacy that is exemplified in the 50th anniversary of Carolina Cares, a program that was started Dec. 10, 1969, by Steve Cannon and others.

Cannon came up with the idea of a schoolwide day of service when he was a freshman, and today the program carries on through the Carolina Service Council. The total amount of donations of time and money is announced every year at the UofSC treelighting.

Cannon is proud the program has continued so many years and says each generation of Gamecocks shows they are up to the leadership and service tasks our communities need by participating.

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