Hundreds take to service, celebrate Community Outreach Week

Courtesy / GVSU CSLC

Courtesy / GVSU CSLC

Shiloh Reynolds

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Shiloh Reynolds

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Grand Valley State University is celebrating its 10th annual Community Outreach Week from March 23 to 30. Sponsored by GVSU’s Office of Alumni Relations, Community Outreach Week allows students, alumni, faculty and staff to participate in planned service projects or develop a volunteer opportunity of their own.

Kyle Barnhart has served as GVSU’s Alumni Volunteer Coordinator for the past year and a half. As part of this job, he said he helps with recruiting participants and registering them in various service projects. Barnhart said that as of March 20, nearly 450 GVSU students have signed up to volunteer, surpassing participation numbers of prior years. 

“That number will continue to grow into next week as more people sign up and we add walk-ins, drop in service projects and individual volunteer activities,” Barnhart said. “In past years, we’ve seen between 700 and 1,000 Lakers participate in Community Outreach Week. 2018 saw more students than ever volunteer – about 350.”

For 2019, over 40 service projects are being offered. While many of the service projects benefit Michigan charities and organizations – such as Kid’s Food Basket, Disability Advocates of Kent County and the Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department – some GVSU alumni are implementing service projects across the country. 

Out-of-state projects include making food packages for the homeless through Soup Mobile in Coppell, Texas and volunteering at the Hunger Solution Center in Seattle. In addition, some alumni in Austin, Texas are planning to get together during the week to make encouragement notes to send to GVSU, which will be displayed in the library during finals exam.

In addition to off-campus volunteering, several on-campus opportunities exist.

“This year, we are excited to have so many on-campus projects for students and staff to drop in to,” Barnhart said. “There is one almost everyday supporting a variety of off-campus organizations, as well as a workday at the Sustainable Agriculture Project, and the Community Outreach Week Day of Service sponsored by the Community Service Learning Center.”

Barnhart said that he thinks Community Outreach Week is a good example of the way Lakers can benefit those around them.

“Community Outreach Week is a powerful example of the Grand Valley Laker Effect – our collective impact on the communities around (west Michigan and beyond),” Bernhart said. “This is also something that all Lakers participate in no matter where you are in your Grand Valley experience – a student, alumni or a member of the faculty or staff.”