Taking time to give back

By Tim Belter ’13
November 15, 2011

A buzz of cheerful chatter filled Peoria’s former Borders bookstore last weekend as Bradley students busily crafted snowflakes, candles and other holiday decorations for the Crittenton Centers’ Stocking Stuffers Store and Festival of Trees fundraisers. The students were donating their time and creativity through Service on Saturday, a new volunteer program that connects Bradley students with local volunteer opportunities.

“We’re really grateful for Service on Saturday,” said Danielle Easton, the development and marketing director at Crittenton Centers, a local child welfare organization. “All of the decorating will get done in one day, when normally it would take us all week.”

Service on Saturday provides Bradley students fun, convenient ways to give back to the Peoria community. Volunteers gather at the Michel Student Center on Saturday mornings for breakfast before heading off to the various volunteer sites for the day, with transportation provided by the University. Each event includes multiple service sites from which the students may choose.

“We had a lot of students looking to volunteer in the community, and there weren’t a lot of good outlets,” said Katie McGinn, director of the Lewis J. Burger Center for Student Leadership and Public Service. “They said they didn’t have transportation, didn’t know where to go to volunteer or didn’t want to go alone. This program addresses all three of those concerns.”

Students have responded enthusiastically. Since the beginning of the semester, nearly 400 students have attended Service on Saturday, and 100 came to the November event alone.

“I had a passion for service in high school and wanted to continue it in college, and this is just one of the ways I can do that,” said Nicole Carey, a freshmen elementary education major and member of the Fellows leadership program. “I came to the first one, absolutely loved it, and I’ve been coming ever since. It’s a great way to spend a Saturday morning.”

“I wanted to do some volunteer work,” said Hannah Driscoll, a junior psychology major. “I just transferred here, so I didn’t really know anybody, and this was a great way to meet people.”

This is yet another way Bradley can help make the Peoria community an even better place to live.

“Bradley has always supported us,” said Easton. “We’re a smaller agency and really rely on volunteers. It’s amazing to work with such community-minded students.”

That sense of community was clearly felt as the students transformed the former Borders into a festive workshop.

The Service on Saturday program is funded by a grant from the Thomas and Ellen Foster Fund of the Community Foundation of Central Illinois. For more information about Service on Saturday and volunteer opportunities, visit http://www.bradley.edu/campuslife/studentleadership/service/.