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Local service opportunity gets students involved in community

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CMA graduate students perform at Heritage Corner

Though students spread out all over Northwest Ohio to participate in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Monday, some didn’t venture far from the University as they served in the Bowling Green community.

Freshman Elizabeth Keller said having a day of service on a holiday allows students to set aside time to be out in the community.

“This gives us the time and opportunity to give back to the BG community,” she said. “They give so much to us.”

The Common Good, The Cocoon and The Wood County Park District were just three organizations that had University students serving at their locations.

Sixteen volunteers from the University served at The Common Good, a community center and public space on Crim Street, for the MLK Day Of Service.

The students screenprinted shirts and created buttons that The Common Good could sell to raise funds and promote the center.

Megan Sutherland, executive director of The Common Good, said volunteering “makes a much bigger impact especially on non-profits.”

She said on an average day there could be anywhere from 10 to 20 volunteers there. The Common Good has two paid staff members and eight interns.

Sutherland said the number of shirts and buttons made would take the staff a week to complete. “We did it in two hours (today),” she said.

She said it was helpful to have people come support the center itself.

“Usually our thing is we go help other people,” Sutherland said. “People don’t usually do stuff for the non-profit.”

For days like the MLK Day of Service, Sutherland said she fills out a form for the Office of Service Learning with the number of people she will need and what projects they will be working on.

Sophomore Alexis Johnston requested to be placed at The Cocoon, which offers resources and advocacy for victims of sexual and domestic abuse, as she volunteers there regularly outside of the MLK Day of Service. She said there will usually be one to two volunteers at The Cocoon on any given day, but 23 University students were serving there Monday.

Johnston said her motivation for signing up for the MLK Day of Service was her major, social work.

“They needed help and I was more than willing to come.”

Johnston said much of the work was organizational, as The Cocoon recently moved to a new location on Campbell Hill Road.

“Since we’re not working specifically with the victims, you tend to forget that you’re actually helping. But if we can do this for them, then the people who actually work here can go out and actually help the victims,” she said.

Senior Caroline Dill, who was volunteering with her service fraternity, had a similar view.

“Anytime I do service, even if it’s something small like cleaning out a closet, I’m making an impact,” she said. “They need that so they can do other things.”

According to the list of projects on the University website, The Cocoon stated the impact of the service project is that “It will greatly increase our ability to serve domestic violence survivors and increase our ability to use our new space as effectively as possible.”

Students were also serving at the Wood County Park District headquarters.

The 30 University students serving were divided into two groups. One group was building sections of a boardwalk while the other group cleaned seeds of native plants to be grown in the district’s greenhouse.

Jamie Sands, marketing director for the Wood County Park District and Volunteer Services, said that though the district has volunteers helping with many services on any given day, students from the University are still filling a need.

“The students today are providing a very valuable service that will directly impact our efforts and our parks,” she said.

The boardwalk will increase the accessibility of the parks and the plants grown from the seeds will benefit the ecosystem of the county’s parks.

The work students were doing was “more than our staff could possibly handle,” Sands said. “We talk about the power of one, but when you have the power of many, that becomes greater than the sum of its parts.”

Students serving in Bowling Green places a focus on involvement with the community that surrounds campus.

“We’re so impressed with BGSU for championing this day of service and providing so much value to the community,” Sands said.

“I think it’s cool that the campus is closed but they still want the kids to be involved in the community and reminding themselves, BG is not a college town, it’s a town that has a college in it,” Johnston said.

University students also served at: All About Kids Learning Center, Brookdale Bowling Green, the Children’s Resource Center, Heritage Corner, the Jordan Family Development Center, La Conexión de Wood County, the Outreach Program, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, the Wood County Committee on Aging and Wood Haven Health Care.

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