Volunteer Fair brings philanthropy to students

Local volunteer agencies in the Fort Worth community and Tarrant County area presented opportunities to serve Monday at the TCU Center for Community Involvement & Service-Learning’s (CISL)  annual Volunteer Fair.

The event, which takes place every fall, was held in front of the Mary Couts Burnett Library this year.

Students passed by the volunteer tables of organizations offering opportunities to get involved in various issue areas of the community, Rosangela Boyd, director of CISL, said.

“We have agencies from hospice to children’s literacy programs to hospitals and equestrian,” Boyd said. “There is a little bit for every type of interest.” 

“We hope that every student that comes by can see something that speaks to them and sees an opportunity to get involved beyond the TCU walls.”

Mary Kathleen Baldwin, assistant director of CISL, said the volunteer fair was designed to give TCU students easy exposure to meaningful volunteer opportunities by bringing local agencies on campus.

“Our goal is to get students involved in a productive and meaningful way,” she said.

According to CISL’s 2010-2011 annual report, more than 2,000 TCU students contributed about 15,000 volunteer hours in 2010-2011. 

The numbers, however, represented only the service projects tracked through CISL. The actual figures were projected to be even higher for campus-wide involvement, Baldwin said.

Volunteer agencies registered for a table at the volunteer fair for free on the CISL website, Boyd said. She said the ability for agencies to set up on campus and recruit TCU students to help their organizations is a “win-win” situation.

Michelle Wagner, a representative of Communities in Schools, a volunteer agency present at the fair, said the organization had been involved with the volunteer fair in the past and looked to recruit TCU students to help with service projects, such as College Student for a Day.

With almost 60 agencies present at the fair, students had a range of opportunities volunteer.
Volunteering at Hangman’s House of Horrors, a charity-benefiting haunted house around America, was one such opportunity.

Wes Parrish, a representative of Hangman’s House of Horrors, said putting on makeup and scaring people is a great way for students to earn community service hours while also having a great time.

“We scare because we care,” he said.

Melissa Morales, a sophomore anthropology major, said she serves because it brings about change.

“I do volunteering because I like seeing change in the society,” Morales said.

Morales, who is involved with Habitat for Humanity, said most people volunteer because of the satisfaction they feel from bringing about a big change in the community.

Melissa Gruver, community engagement coordinator for CISL, said there are numerous reasons TCU students want to volunteer. CISL serves as a liaison between enthusiastic students and agencies by connecting them to specific organizations that share similar needs.

Gruver said she was pleased to be involved with the TCU culture that encourages volunteering and community involvement. She said she has noticed that an increasing number of students are becoming aware of the needs of the community.

“It’s really great for us to be able to have over 50 agencies saying ‘hey we see those needs, too, and this is how you can be a part of it and a part of something greater than you,’” she said.