Volunteering beneficial to students

With summer right around the corner, many students are looking at a little more free time than normal. Some students may want to use this extra time to volunteer in the community.

“Service is not hard to fit into your life,” said Rick Ellis, director, Center for Community Services. “The average American does about four hours a week of service time.”

There are many benefits to volunteering, says Ellis, and Topeka is a community that takes pride in investing in itself.

Employers around Topeka are vested in their community, said Ellis. Payless, Goodyear, and other companies “believe in this community” and have created special funding and committees to give back to Topeka. Since it is a part of their mission to better the community, companies often look for their employees who have the same kind of commitment and connection.

Volunteering can also help you to impress institutions of higher education.

“Service has a lot of influence if you want to go to graduate school,” said Ellis. “Almost every grad school application asks for your experience with service.”

Ellis also said that serving your community may influence professors when they serve as your references.

“[Professors] can see that you did more than just come to class. They are impressed with students that do a lot, and the more they reach outside of themselves, the more faculty are moved,” said Ellis.

But it’s important that those who do service aren’t just trying to build their resume.

“It’s not just the number of hours, but why did you do it,” said Ellis.

Chelsea Weber, a freshman at Allen County, does community service for a variety of reasons, but never mentions how it will benefit her education or career.

“Working with the Cappers Foundation helps me to accept people’s differences, so I’m less likely to judge a book by its cover,” said Weber. “Working with kids with disabilities makes me realize what I take for granted every day.”

Patrick Towle, a freshman at Washburn University, agrees. As an Eagle Scout, Towle has spent hours volunteering with Let’s Help, the Safe Streets Coalition, and Family Services and Guidance center.

“Volunteering was very fulfilling. I felt like I was doing my part. It felt good to give back to the community since the community has given so much to me,” said Towle.

If students are interested in donating some of their time to the community this summer, or at any time during the year, Ellis encourages them to come to the LinC office, which can match students with over 100 partner organizations.

“Volunteer work is not a hard thing to fit into your life,” said Ellis. “It is a matter of priorities.”