Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Volunteer Fair creates opportunities for students to engage with SEMO and community

Thursday, September 1, 2022
Students gather around organizations’ booths to learn about different ways to volunteer. On the left, students speak to the American Red Cross.
Photo by Samantha Chorab

To promote altruism in the community, SEMO’s Volunteer Fair was held on Wednesday, Aug. 31 in the University Center to inform students about different organizations. As students entered the lobby, they were greeted by organizations’ booths eager to explain ways to volunteer.

With nine organizations to choose from, students were given the opportunity to assist a cause they are passionate about, from protecting the environment to emergency aid.

One group at the fair was dedicated to helping children in need.

“We do this thing called the Pillowcase Projects,” an employee for the American Red Cross said. “You teach children about what to put into their pillowcase in case of a disaster, so they can always have their pillowcase ready to grab and go.”

While volunteering, students can learn and even teach valuable skills, such as at the Mississippi Valley Therapeutic Horsemanship. They provide equine-assisted services to children and adults with disabilities. According to their website, therapeutic horseback riding helps people with disabilities learn new skills “and to achieve cognitive, behavioral, psychological, and physical goals.”

For most groups, volunteers are welcome no matter their experience level.

“Volunteers don't need to have prior experiences. We provide all of our own training in-house,” an employee for the Mississippi Valley Therapeutic Horseman said. “We can teach any individual what they need to know for our service. They just have to have the heart to help.”

With academics and clubs already in students’ schedules, students may be deterred from volunteering. Members of Gamma Sigma Sigma explained how planning one’s schedule makes it easier to volunteer. Their philanthropic project is The Backstoppers. They fundraise for firefighters, police and EMTs wounded in the line of duty.

“A planner definitely helps a lot,” Gamma Sigma Sigma member Jessica Dolan said. “You have to plan ahead when you have stuff going on and when stuff is due.”

Campus Life and Event Services graduate assistant Caraline Brune coordinated the event. To Brune, compassion should be a motivator for people to volunteer.

“SEMO has given an institution where you can make all of these friends and connections,” Brune said. “You should tie in the local community to that aspect as well. Volunteering is a great way for someone to give back to a community that has given them so much.”

For more information on different volunteer organizations, visit the campus’ website.