Last week Hillsdale College’s GOAL program promoted volunteering opportunities in a six-day campaign dubbed Community Service 101.
GOAL hosted a week of “volunteering for millenials,” when they encouraged students to volunteer by advertising service opportunities more aggressively, said GOAL director and senior Lucile Townley.
“One of the things we always struggle with is looping in freshmen and sophomores, and getting them to volunteer,” Lucile Townley said. “You come in as a freshman, sign up for five billion things, and realize after the first day of classes that you do not have time to do everything. And suddenly all the volunteer programs you signed up for become this big and scary commitment.”
From last Tuesday until Sunday, the volunteers hung up posters, put fliers and a prize in student mailboxes, and sat in the union with coffee and stickers during several mealtimes.
“Once you volunteer once and see the need in our community, right across the train tracks, it’s really hard not to go back and not to make time in your schedule to help our community,” said Townley.
They arranged carpools to make crossing the train tracks into town easier for students without cars, and advertised opportunities to shadow GOAL leaders.
“I always say we want to get people across the train tracks and into the community,” GOAL coordinator and sophomore Michaela Peine said. “It is something that is worth making a priority in your college experience. I know it’s changed the way I view my own academics and my own role here in Hillsdale.”
Although GOAL leaders said it was difficult to quantify the amount of exposure their marketing campaign generated,
“By putting my program in the schedule, I received lots of emails from people who were interested in tutoring on a regular basis,” senior Haley Hauprich said. “I think it’s great that people want to give volunteering a try, but our programs really thrive when people are willing to make volunteering a part of their weekly or biweekly routine.”
GOAL is considering hosting another similar event during next year’s homecoming week, when students are typically looking to boost their dorms’ volunteer hours. But GOAL leaders say that while Community Service 101 is over, the opportunities for students to help the community are not.
“One thing I’ve been trying to emphasize is that whole campaign was just a marketing thing. None of these opportunities are over. All of these opportunities are continuing,” Peine said. “It’s also an incredible gift to yourself. I think that’s one of the worst-kept secrets of volunteering is that is a gift for the volunteers almost more than it is for the people you’re helping.”