Students volunteer for local causes – Community benefits from plentiful service

As the old saying goes, to help another is to help yourself. Murray State students frequently help the local community.

Students are taking advantage of the many volunteer opportunities the city of Murray has to offer.

Whether they prefer helping animals, adults or youth, Murray has several ways for students to volunteer their time toward a good cause.

Angela Survant, senior from Princeton, Ky., enjoys volunteering with her sorority, Alpha Omicron Pi, at West Kentucky Mentoring, which helps underprivileged children within the community.

“As a student who volunteers, the benefits are countless,” Survant said. “You have the opportunity to help children grow into responsible young men and women who are well-rounded, as well as developing networking and professional skills for yourself.”

Matthew Hamblen, executive director of the Calloway County Red Cross chapter, said there are several ways for students to give their time in a variety of events within the Red Cross.

Hamblen said students usually volunteer for Red Cross-sponsored services such as blood drives and health and safety fairs.

He said there are several other opportunities available, such as disaster relief teams for different catastrophes such as tornados and house fires.

Hamblen said another option for students is the Holiday Hero mail campaign, a venture for active service members of the U.S. military.

“Anyone can take as many cards as they wish, decorate them or write a message inside and return it to our office around the week before Thanksgiving and they will be delivered overseas to members of our military,” Hamblen said. “This is a simple way for students to give back to soldiers who cannot be home with their families during the holidays. Students can solidify the hours they need for whatever reason, but volunteering also gives the ‘feel-good’ vibe that comes with helping someone.”

Kennadie Potter, freshman from Cadiz, Ky., said she enjoys helping neglected animals in Murray by volunteering at the Murray-Calloway County Animal Shelter.

“I came here because I really miss my dogs at home, and I need some puppy therapy and they definitely need human therapy,” Potter said. “Volunteering here gives you a really good feeling, to have an animal that has been neglected trust you.”

If a student wishes to volunteer at the animal shelter all they have to do is check in with the shelter.

Animal shelter officials said all types of students come in to the shelter for anywhere between 20 minutes to three hours.

Anna Stonestreet, senior from Evansville, Ind., said she likes to volunteer at the animal shelter because it is a stress reliever and has a meaningful impact on the local community.

“Volunteering can spark a new interest or a new hobby as well giving you an advantage in your future professional life,” Stonestreet said.

Extension Agent Ginny Harper at the Calloway County 4-H Center said the center welcomes both short-term and long-term volunteers.

Opportunities range from teaching a local school 4-H club about practical living skills to helping young 4-H members at public fundraising events.

“As a college student, the more varied your experiences are and the variety of opportunities you take advantage of can definitely make you a better employee when it comes time to get a job,” Harper said.

She also said networking skills used when volunteering can make connections that can last a lifetime, even if it is something as simple as looking for someone who can write a letter of recommendation for a job.

She suggested students open their eyes to the many possibilities available to help others in their community.


Story by Alex Mahrenholz, Contributing writer