Project HELP held an ice cream social Sept. 13 to allow students to check out various volunteer opportunities, including Planned Parenthood, Elmore SPCA and the Plattsburgh Interfaith Food Shelf.

Project HELP is a student run volunteer organization that strives to meet the needs of the community while providing students with opportunities to volunteer in areas of their interest.

Volunteer coordinator and senior biochemistry major Justin Alves encouraged people to join the organizations available.

“We help the student body get involved on and off-campus with organizations that can help them volunteer,” he said.

As far as organizing the event, Alves said they had to call up the organizations to see if they’d like to participate. Then, they had to contact campus dining for the ice cream, as well as book the room and make sure there were enough tables.

Assistant Director of Angell College Center and Organization Development Deb Brunner said they promoted their one-time event signup sheets so when students sign up, they’ll start getting emails about what’s coming up with the organizations.

“The Innerfaith Food Church is down by the methodist church, and we actually just did a food drive on Monday,” Brunner said. “We took 200 pounds of food to them. Community members can go there and pick up non-perishable food goods.”

Brunner encouraged students to volunteer their time because it would make college life feel more at home.

“Primarily students live here nine months of the year. This really is a home away from home, and if they volunteered and did service in the community, I think they’d come to find themselves feeling more at home here,” she said.

She said volunteering helps students explore their options in a safe way.

Brunner said it’s a free experience, and they offer free van rides to those who don’t have cars.

“I think because we focus so much on the North Country,” she said, “we try to build relationships with our local agencies and develop that throughout the years.”

Sexual Assault Legal Advocate and Volunteer Coordinator of Planned Parenthood Autumn Bennett said their volunteer service offers many services such as work in clinics, sexual assault services, educators and escorting women from building to building.

Bennet said they’re not so much about events as much as volunteers helping out with day-to-day services.

“I think students should get involved with Planned Parenthood because it’s a wonderful organization,” Bennett said. “We offer amazing services to people as far as reproductive health care and offer free counseling. We’re looking to make a difference. We support each other really well.”

Freshman ecology major Becky Klein attended the event and said she was interested in joining Planned Parenthood as a volunteer.

“I was interested in the organizations that’d be here,” she said. “As a freshman, obviously I don’t know that much about the community and I wanted to get involved.”

Klein said she intended on volunteering at her local Planned Parenthood in Rochester, but she never got around to doing it.

“It’s right up the street here so if I wanted to volunteer, I can just walk up the street here.”

Elmore SPCA board president Laurie Parsons said their goal was to interact with students interested in volunteering in their organization.

“What we hope to do is make them aware of the kinds of activities that we have at our shelter,” Parsons said. “Most people think about the traditional ‘they’re going to walk the dog’ but we’re so much more than that.”

Parsons said their main mission is to provide homes to the animals.

The organization does several services such as a street drive, where they collect money in Plattsburgh. They also have an upcoming event Saturday where they go to PetSmart for an adoption day.

“I think students should get involved to feel like a part of the community. If you go your four years, and you don’t join a club or an organization, you won’t have an impact on your collegiate career,” Alves said.

He encourages other students to give back to a community because it will give them life experience. He also said their next big event is next semester, which is called The Day of Caring.
“One of our biggest events next semester is called The Day of Caring, where we set up like 500 volunteers to go out for over 50 projects all around town and it’s our biggest community service day of the year,” Alves said.

He also said they have a salvation army soup kitchen, which is another event to look forward to.

“We’re different because from what I heard, we’re the only student run volunteer organization on campus,” Alves said. “We’re students helping other students get involved.”

Email Kavita Singh at fuse@cardinalpointsonline.com

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