While the holiday season can be stressful, giving back to the community can make the season even more merry and bright.
Through different programs around campus, members of the IUS community are pitching in unique ways to make someone else’s holiday season a better one.
From necessities to gifts, there are multiple ways to lend a helping hand before the semester ends.
Holiday food boxes provided on campus
IUS Care Management Manager Karen Richie knows the power of volunteering.
Richie, who oversees the Grenadier Grab ‘n Go, has already hand-packed holiday boxes full of canned ham, stuffing mix, macaroni and cheese, vegetables, mashed potatoes, canned fruit, corn muffin mix, soup and extra surprises for people in need.
Richie said the overarching goal for the food boxes is to hopefully make things seem more normal and natural for the holiday season.
The boxes will be provided through a partnership with Dare to Care. Boxes will be available to order until Dec. 10, to be picked up on Dec. 13.
Although there are no student volunteers this year, Richie said she would love to have student volunteers in the future. A holiday season donation drive could also be possible in the future with the help of IUS students, she said.
Richie has always considered what she is doing as fulfilling her role in “a united community.”
“I think human beings have the sense of that goodness of heart, that feels really great when they volunteer,” said Richie.
Students can help support the Grenadier Grab ‘n Go in various ways: helping stock shelves, dropping off a few canned goods or picking up food from the pantry.
“Volunteer activities are things where you can engage in conversation with other people that can create a sense of belongingness too,” she added.
One of the newest volunteer opportunities provided on campus will be a clothing swap hosted by the IUS Honors Program. The swap will run from Dec. 6 to Dec. 9. Before then, students can drop off gently used clothing items in the University Center from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on weekdays.
Students will receive a voucher for each item donated. Vouchers can then be used during the swap to take home items donated by others.
Swap coordinator Gracie Kaine said she got the idea after learning about sustainability and fast fashion consumerism via TikTok videos about virtual clothing swaps.
Kaine said the project was not as stressful as she was expecting it to be. Once she pitched the idea, it was apparent everyone in the honors program was excited to see it come to life, she said.
The swap is student-run but overseen by Dr. Rebekah Dement, director of the Honors Program.
“The idea alone has boosted my morale,” Dement said. “It’s a splendid idea and I’m delighted to see it come to fruition.”
Kaine said she has found several benefits from volunteering and she thinks other students would, too. Volunteering is a great networking opportunity and makes her feel “really connected” with others, she said.
“I think volunteering has really been beneficial, because it helps me look forward to something and knowing that I’m helping people is really beneficial to my mental health,” said Kaine.
To find more volunteer activities on campus–and some even off campus–visit https://www.ius.edu/campus-life/volunteer/volunteer-opportunities.php . To become part of the Volunteer Incentive Program on campus visit https://www.ius.edu/campus-life/volunteer/vip-program.php .