Students from the Give Back Committee within the Senior Class Cabinet have established a goal for the Class of 2014 to complete 2,014 hours of community service by the end of the academic year as a way to give back to Ithaca College and the Ithaca community.
Senior Jenny Barish, director of finance for the senior class executive board and one of the leaders of the initiative, said the Give Back Committee wanted the senior class to show appreciation to the college and community with service instead of just monetary donations. Members of the Give Back Committee are seniors Jen Segal, Claire Dehm, Marissa Lombardo, Luke St. Clair and Jess Caracciolo.
“We wanted to change the focus of the Give Back Committee from philanthropy to service,” Barish said. “We see these service initiatives as a way to say, ‘Here’s what we have contributed.’”
The most recent event that members of the committee initiated was the “Post-Cortaca Clean-Up” on Nov. 18. Four seniors earned four hours of service each by collecting 1,000 cans left over after celebrations that took place prior to the Cortaca Jug football game Nov. 16. The seniors recycled the cans at Wegmans and Tops, earning $50 and donating the money to Tompkins Learning Partners, a not-for-profit that provides underprivileged youth and adults in the Tompkins County with more educational opportunities.
Senior Connor Jones, one of the volunteers for “Post-Cortaca Clean-Up,” said he chose to participate because he felt strongly about supporting Tompkins Learning Partners, which the four seniors decided to donate to prior to the event.
“We’re at a school finishing up our education, and [the organization] is helping educate people who don’t have the opportunities that we have,” Jones said.
The next event the members of the initiative are promoting is the Red Cross Drive on Dec. 10. Students can sign up in the Campus Center on Dec. 3. Seniors who donate blood can log 1 1/2 hours of service.
Barish said the members of the initiative do not create their own volunteer programs, but rather curate already-existing volunteering programs on-campus and in the local community.
So far, seniors have submitted more than 300 hours of service. If each senior contributes an hour and a half of volunteer service within the year, the goal will be achieved, Barish said. The majority of the hours have been fulfilled by seniors who already volunteer, but senior Erin Smith, president of the Senior Class, said the Give Back Committee is looking to reach out to more students who usually aren’t involved in volunteer work.
“We are reaching different markets: people that are already out there doing stuff and doing it anyway, then they log their hours that count toward the 2,014, then there are the few opportunities we are putting out each week that are getting the people who aren’t necessarily involved to do something,” Smith said.
Seniors can log their hours by going onto the senior class website and filling out a form under the “Give Back” tab. Seniors can specify where they volunteered, what they did and how many hours they spent volunteering.
One such student is senior Renee Metzger, who is the volunteer coordinator for IC Habitat for Humanity and who has been volunteering with the group for four years. Metzger said the members of the senior class initiative have helped Habitat for Humanity reach out to more seniors who, she said, tend not to do as much community service as freshmen or sophomores.
“There’s a lot of people around us who aren’t as fortunate as us and haven’t had the same opportunities, so taking a little bit of time out of your schedule to affect other people in a positive way means a lot,” Metzger said.
The members of the initiative send out emails, post on their Facebook page and maintain a website with lists of upcoming events throughout the year. Barish said within an hour of releasing the first announcements for the 2,014-hours initiative in early October, more than 100 students said they were interested.
However, substantially fewer students actually attended some of the volunteer events the committee has organized. The Give Back Committee has been partnering with campus organizations that already have group service projects and helping them promote volunteer opportunities they already offer.
Smith said volunteering is something so simple and unifying that the visible results at the end will demonstrate how much of an impact the seniors had on the Ithaca community.
“Even to have an hour volunteering for something gives you so much perspective, and I think that we — especially as seniors that are worrying about the careers that we are going into, everything that’s going on academically and extracurricularly — that is so crucial to use at least one hour of this year to bring us back into perspective of what really matters,” Smith said.