By Morgan Caplan
‘Tis the season when the giving spirit is high.
While stuck at school during the last weeks of finals, students may be hard-pressed to find time to give back to those around them. But with more than 200 service organizations on campus, students have many opportunities to get involved and make an impact on the communities of the University of Maryland and beyond.
Even with busy schedules, many students have found outlets that allowed them to give back in their own way.
Whether they donate money to Terp Thon or spend winter break building houses for Habitat for Humanity, students have the ability to spread the holiday spirit with good deeds. While some of these organizations require more physical work than others, each organization at this university has the ability to provide great opportunities and services for the people it serves.
“Through Greek life, I have been able to continue to stay involved with the community and find outlets to give back,” Martina Dragoytchev, a sophomore enrolled in letters and sciences, said. “I was always an active person in my community in high school and working with Salvation Army through Greek life has continued that passion.”
Volunteering for any of the groups at this university is just one simple way to become active in that club and provide a service to the outside community.
Terp Thon, the largest student-run philanthropic organization on campus, has many opportunities for volunteers. Terp Thon is always seeking students to gather donations or chalk announcements around the school grounds. Donating time to these organizations and fostering the work they do is instant gratification for those being served in the community.
“Terp Thon is very easy to get involved with,” Madeline Pere, Terp Thon Public Relations chairman and a sophomore international business and marketing major, said. “If you are a student, faculty or staff at the University of Maryland you can register as a dancer, which sets you up to start fundraising ‘For The Kids.’ Every donation is significant in helping the lives of children in our local community and ensuring they receive the care they need to survive.”
“Every man is guilty of the good he did not do.” – Voltaire
This university’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity also provides many possibilities for students to volunteer. The organization, which was created to fund and build affordable housing for low-income families, gives students the opportunity to build these houses or fundraise in its various events.
“I wanted to continue with service organizations at UMD because volunteering has left such a positive impact on my life,” president of Habitat for Humanity Kelly Boyle said. “I really like the quote, ‘everyone is guilty of all the good they did not do.’ No matter where people are, what they are doing, big or small, there is always something that can be done to make other’s day brighter.”
These organizations are flexible in their projects, depending on the desires of the students. If they have very busy schedules, they have the ability to attend the fundraising events and donate their time in that way.
For those who can’t get away from campus life, there are plenty of options directly on campus that benefit students at this university. Tutoring and the campus-wide cleanup initiative are beneficial to not only the students on campus, but also the College Park residents who neighbor the campus.
“If you’re a lazy college student, just search in the service groups on OrgSync and click the join button,” Boyle, a senior kinesiology major, said. “It’s the easiest and laziest way to get involved. You can’t go wrong with trying it out, and there are so many diverse organizations that it is easy to find something unique to your personal interests.”
These service opportunities typically occur once a week for a few hours, so they’re accessible and feasible even for a busy college student.
Being busy in college has to stop being an excuse for something such as service, Dragoytchev said. The work she does with Salvation Army requires her to meet up once a week, but it benefits these kids in the long run, she said.
“One of the best things is that at Maryland, even though I was actively involved in the UNICEF club in high school, I could continue my passion for philanthropy in Terp Thon and the other organizations I am involved with,” sophomore hearing and speech major Lea Marucci said. “It has been the most rewarding experience of my college career. If you have the passion for service, go and find the opportunities.”