Photo by Josh Sandler

Involvement in service projects is one of the things that Tech encourages most in its students. There are campus-wide events like Team Buzz and Tech Beautification Day that call hundreds of students to volunteer, and many other projects to choose from throughout the year as well.

This week, Focus talked to students about their most valued volunteer experiences, and why committing to service is important to them.

Jenny Sanders, a first-year IE major, acknowledged that it isn’t always easy to make time for community service, but enjoys volunteering and knowing that she has made a difference in the community.

“I did Sting Hunger with CCF, and it was really awesome…we packaged [boxes] of food, made an assembly line and I helped carry all of the boxes to the truck. There were a lot of people involved, which was great because it’s not always easy to make time for things like this when you’re at Tech.”

In spite of her busy classes, exams and extracurricular schedule, Sanders was happy to make time for the Sting Hunger project and hopes to be involved with the event again in the future.

“I honestly feel like I haven’t done enough because there’s always that time issue, but I’ve always really liked doing community service around campus. Sometimes you forget how important it is, so I’m really glad I did it this year,” Sanders said.

Sting Hunger is a meal-packaging event sponsored by a variety of groups from service organizations such as MOVE (Mobilizing Opportunities for Volunteer Experience) and Circle K, to the Residence Hall Association (RHA) and religious organizations on campus like the Christian Campus Fellowship (CCF). Some of the students who participated were recruited during Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week last fall.

It is considered one of the biggest volunteering events on campus, and according to the Sting Hunger website, this year’s first annual event saw 450 student volunteers work to package over 100,000 meals for families in crisis situations in developing countries around the world during a period of less than five hours.

Maddie Lemieux, a first-year Chemistry major, participated in a service event with her sorority that she considers one of her most memorable volunteering experiences.

“My sorority did a philanthropy event called ‘Dodging Domestic Violence’ and organized a dodgeball tournament, which was pretty great,” Lemieux said.

The proceeds for AXO’s second annual dodgeball tournament went to the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation, which works to empower the victims of domestic violence.

“We do the [dodgeball] event once a year, but we have other events that we do as well because different sisters participate in different projects. For me participating in the sorority event was an obligation, but I really like doing things like that anyway,” Lemieux said.

As a philanthropy project, third-year EE major Andrew Byrd worked with Atlanta Mission with his fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon, serving breakfast to those facing homelessness.

“They were really happy to have us there serving, and it was gratifying to be able to do it. SigEp does projects like that pretty frequently…I’d say probably twice a month or so over the past couple of semesters. I really like the kinds of philanthropy activities that are hands-on. Going around asking people for money or walking a race aren’t as appealing to me as feeling involved,” Byrd said.

On the fundraising side, third-year PSY major Kajene Murugathasan helped to organize the India Run for Hope event and participated in it as well. She noted that working with other schools involved in the activity made it seem even more meaningful.

“We helped to raise money for youth education…the event involved runners from a lot of different organizations on campus, Greek Life, and even people from Emory and GSU. It was a lot of fun to do…I even danced during the entertainment part of the event,” Murugathasan said.

Jessica Barrett, a fourth-year PSY major, worked with her sorority during Tech Beautification Day on various clean-up projects around the sorority house.

She enjoyed the opportunity to do something for her house while at the same time making a real difference that people could notice on a daily basis.

Barrett also found that volunteering alongside her friends during the event was an exciting incentive for participating, and makes the experience of working with service projects more gratifying overall.

“We planted flowers, spread pine straw and did other things like that. I signed up for it because it was a great opportunity to work on our house and get involved with some friends. We all got together and got breakfast beforehand, so we made it into more of an event than something like an obligation. I feel like once you get friends involved it adds an aspect of fun to the motivation behind the volunteering and doing something good for a cause,” Barrett said.

Second-year BME major Sarah Kahlek was inspired to work as an unpaid TA close to home by an especially helpful TA that she had last year.
“I’m a junior TA and I don’t get paid for it, but I really like it. It’s for a BME class and basically the students are redesigning a medical product and we give them feedback. I think that in a lot of ways we learn from each other because I get ideas from them for other projects. I learn from them and they learn from me, which I think is the best kind of relationship when it comes to volunteering and service,” Kahlek said.

For students looking for a volunteer opportunity but not sure where to start, Hands on Atlanta is an affiliate of the Hands on Network, a group of over 250 volunteer organizations across 16 countries.

Volunteers choose a project and are led by a Hands on Leader from one of Hands on Atlanta’s non-profit partners. Scheduling and project tasks are flexible.

One example of an upcoming project is the Piedmont Park Conservancy Clean and Green to benefit the upkeep and cleanliness of the park.

More information on upcoming events can be found at handsonatlanta.org.