Campus fair encourages students to volunteer in C-U

A Quad Day of sorts, the Illini Union Office of Volunteer Programs held a Campus Volunteer Fair on Sept. 1 to get the word out about volunteer opportunities in Champaign-Urbana.

The fair, which brought together 55 off-campus organizations, nine student organizations and two campus departments, was designed to gather interested students who were looking to get involved in philanthropy but were unsure where to start, said Vaneitta Goines, program advisor for the Office of Volunteer Programs.

“The first purpose of an event like this is to give students the ability to connect with opportunities that fit their schedules and then provide a place where community organizations can recruit a large number of volunteers,” Goines said.

With more than 60 agencies there to mingle with, students like Stephen Martinek, sophomore in Business, had no trouble finding organizations to add to his volunteering network. Martinek attended the event in hopes of finding something different for his fraternity, Beta Chi Theta, that they could get involved in.

“I came here looking for service opportunities around the community that are close to (Beta Chi Theta) because most of us don’t have the flexible transportation options,” Martinek said. He left the fair with a handful of resources and contacts for later volunteer opportunities.

Anil Hussain, senior in Engineering, said events like this generate great enthusiasm for volunteers all around campus. Hussain, external relations chair for the University chapter of Alternative Spring Break, found out about the fair through an email.

“We signed up for it because we figured it would be like Quad Day, especially targeted toward the recruitment of student volunteers,” Hussain said.

Mallory Gamer, senior in Social Work and co-chair with Hussain, agreed.

“This type of fair is a really good idea because Quad Day is overwhelming, especially for first-time students,” said Gamer. “This fair is specific to volunteer work, and it’s a great way to talk one-on-one with students who are actively committed and interested.

Both Hussain and Gamer agreed that the interest gathered today was from much more committed students than those of Quad Day.

Goines said the strategic timing of the event is meant to herd students who are still looking for the perfect RSO or extracurricular.

“Students lose interest, and their schedules change since Quad Day, so we’re accommodating them with this fair,” Goines said.

She said the volunteer fair helps students fulfill the Champaign-Urbana community’s needs.

Students who could not make the fair are invited to drop by the Office of Volunteer Programs to check out a list of references for local volunteer opportunities.