UI volunteers aid community

By Eric Vernsten

The University will be taking part in National Volunteer Week from April 23 to April 29. Students will be donating their time to helping out around the community and collaborating with various organizations to improve the Champaign-Urbana area.

The Office of Volunteer Programs has set up more than 76 projects for the volunteers to help around the community.

“As of right now, we have 317 volunteers, who are scheduled to give 952.5 hours of service,” said Sara Gibbs, a sophomore in LAS who works in the Office of Volunteer Programs.

The events here begin Monday, April 24 with a kickoff event on the Quad featuring several different speakers, from 11a.m. to 2 p.m. The week is open to anyone on campus, and the office is still looking for anyone who is interested to participate.

Gibbs said that the week is for the community, and that the University, “wants the students to come together to give back to the community because they give so much to us.”

“The University has a ton of different service projects in the community,” she said.

The events include working with the St. Jude Catholic Worker house, 317 S. Randolph St., the Center for Women in Transition, 508 E. Church St., and the Champaign and Urbana park districts.

The park districts have been working hard with the Office of Volunteer Programs to plan out activities that will clean up the community.

Kari Hester, special events and volunteer coordinator with the Champaign Park District, said that the volunteers will be doing everything from running a kite flying event for kids to helping run Ebert Fest.

Ebert Fest is the annual film festival, located at the Virginia Theatre, 203 W. Park Ave., and will run from Wednesday to Sunday.

Volunteers will be helping out with just about everything during the event, including concessions, Hester said.

The Urbana Park District is ready for the large amount of volunteers participating in the upcoming events, said Ellen Kirsanoff, development coordinator for the Urbana Park District.

“Normally in a week, there are one to two projects that volunteers will work on,” she said. “Next week, there will be five or six groups, each consisting of at least 20 people.”

The Urbana Park District has a number of projects for volunteers to work on, called habitat workdays, Kirsanoff said. These projects include anything from cutting out invasive species to wood chopping and clearing out trails.

“We always have a to-do list,” Kirsanoff said.

This week, the groups will be working on getting many of the projects done, focusing on cleaning up the Boneyard Creek, Kirsanoff said.

On Friday, April 28, the Illini Union Office of Volunteer Programs will be hosting a volunteer recognition event in the basement of the Illini Union from 11:30 a.m., to 1:00 p.m., with awards to be handed out to individuals and groups in recognition for their dedication and hard work throughout the week.