iHelp Campus Day of Service does good for community

By Aila Rahman, Contributing writer

What started as a small-scale event on the Main Quad during Homecoming Week has transformed into a massive campus-wide initiative to give back to the community.

Celebrating its 11th anniversary, iHelp brings in around 1,500 volunteers and accomplishes 4,500 hours of community service. This year, iHelp is expected to engage in over 30 projects, including a new create-your-own service idea project for Registered Student Organizations.

Habitat for Humanity, Crisis Nursing and St. John’s hospital are a few of the organizations the event will serve, on Saturday, Sept. 30.

On the day of the event, RSOs and individual volunteers are expected to check in at the Main Quad in accordance with their assigned shifts, receive t-shirts and are sent to their agency. RSOs and volunteers return back to the Main Quad after their shift is over to music, food and a sense of accomplishment.

A new RSO, GIVE at UIUC, is just one of many that will be taking advantage of iHelp. GIVE at UIUC is a subgroup of GIVE, dedicated to sending people on volunteer excursions involving sustainability and education.

GIVE at UIUC’s mission is to promote these goals at a local level. They are hoping to establish a foundation, get connected with volunteer opportunities, learn how other RSOs manage service projects and increase their membership on the day of the event.

“iHelp is a great way to meet people with like-minded goals,” said Sonia John, freshman in LAS and treasurer of GIVE at UIUC.

iHelp is sponsored by the Student Alumni Ambassadors. SAA will host many events in the future, including events for Homecoming, “I love Illinois” Week, GradFest and more.

They are dedicated to “enhancing and engaging students so they can become better alumni in the future,” said Christen Massouras, junior in Business and VP of communications for SAA.

Brett Cohen, junior in LAS, is the VP of outreach of the SAA; he and his team organize the event, figure out logistics, reach out to alumni, order food and t-shirts.

“Volunteering is rooted in our (University) traditions, values and morals,” he said.

Cohen says outreach is a pillar of the University, which has hopes of producing a generation that could impact the world and fight for their beliefs. iHelp brings these values to the forefront.

Those involved with iHelp are passionate about the importance of volunteering.

“We should show appreciation to the Urbana-Champaign community that has welcomed us and given us so many opportunities for the last couple of years,” Cohen said.

Likewise, Massouras said that students have the opportunity to give money, time and service to those in need.

“I really think the Illini spirit is giving back,” Massouras said. “It’s making this world a little bit better than when you came here on campus.”

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