With Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas coming around the corner, many students are looking for ways to give back to their community. Many places throughout the valley are looking for volunteers. Therefore, students who are looking to help this season have plenty of options, including the Salt Lake City Road Home, Utah Food Bank and events on Westminster’s campus.
These establishments are particularly good for college students since all three always have opportunities, are close to campus and already employ many Westminster students in volunteer services.
“I’ve fed the homeless a few times,” said Abby Sebastian, senior nursing major. “They are always super appreciative of our time and I always feel like I brightened their day.”
“If students want to get in the mood for the holidays, Nov. 18 from 4 to 7 p.m., we are helping out the Neighborhood House,” Jones said. “It’s their annual holiday dinner and literacy celebration, so we will be helping the clients that come and use the Neighborhood House.”
During this event, students will help with dinner and pass out books to the young students.
There is also an option to help create hygiene kits with the Rowland Hall school community and give them out for the holidays.
For more information, search for the Center for Civic Engagement on Westminster’s website and click “Get involved.”
The Salt Lake City Road Home
The Road Home hosts many events throughout the holidays for students to get involved in. One such event is called Candy Cane Corner, which starts on Nov. 30 and goes until Dec. 23.
“It is where low-income families can go and shop for Christmas items and buy for their kids without actually having to pay for it,” said Robyn Jones, junior psychology major and student event coordinator for the Center of Civic Engagement.
For this event, The Road Home is looking for volunteers to sort donations and wrap gifts. For students who do not have time to volunteer, The Road Home also accepts donations of clothing, toys and household items.
The Road Home also create turkey boxes for Thanksgiving, which are for single men, women and families who live in-house. The boxes include a grocery store gift card ($5, $10 or $20), a roasting pan for turkey, canned vegetables, stuffing mix, instant potatoes, gravy mix and cranberry sauce.
This year, The Road Home is in need of about 200 of these boxes and is accepting donations for them until Nov. 20.
The Utah Food Bank
“The holidays are a crazy time for the Utah Food Bank as far as processing food and getting food out to families,” said Seamus Branch, sophomore English major, student service coordinator and SLICE (Student Leaders in Civic Engagement) coordinator for the Center of Civic Engagement.
One way students can get involved with the food bank is by signing up for meals on wheels.
“If Westminster students have cars, once a month you can take a meal to a couple of people that are close to where you live or just near the food bank,” said Jones, event coordinator for the Center of Civic Engagement.
Students can also participate in the Utah Human Race on Thanksgiving Day. It is a 5K/10K race that benefits the Utah Food Bank.
“Every sponsorship dollar and registration fee raised from the Utah Human Race goes to provide food and service to Utah communities statewide,” according to the Utah Food Bank’s official website.
These are just a few opportunities for students to get involved. If the holidays aren’t enough motivation, many students can look at volunteer work as a learning experience.
“People often underestimate the change you can create by working hard within a community,” said Branch, student service coordinator. ”It’s really cool to see positive things happen in your community that affect you, and you know that you’re a part of that and see momentum build.”
Students can also use this opportunity to help get a job afer after college.
“[Students should volunteer because], number one, you can put that on your resume,” said Jones, student event coordinator. “It helps you get into grad schools—especially if you’re working with a specific organization.”