Giving back to the community surrounding Grand Valley State University is something that all students should take into consideration for a variety of reasons ranging from supporting your neighbors to benefiting your resume. Whatever the reason, GVSU offers many options for volunteering.

On the national level, March is Red Cross Month. On the local level, the GVSU Red Cross Club will show students how to properly give someone CPR. In addition, the group partners with the American Red Cross and Michigan Blood to host several blood drives on campus, and the Grand Rapids chapter of the Red Cross provides volunteer opportunities in the area.

Community health projects are another important way to give back to the surrounding area. One example is the GVSU nursing students who work directly with The Other Way Ministries, a nonprofit that works for family and community development. The students analyzed the main issues facing the community and set out to do something about one of them – obesity. Through the nonprofit, they cooked healthy meals for people living in the southwest neighborhood of Grand Rapids. This shows that even something as simple as proving a nutritional, home-cooked meal for those in need can go a long way.

This type of project, as well as work with the Red Cross, may be especially interesting for students who want more experience in health-related fields.

The university also has many organizations and clubs for students to get involved in. One of these is Alternative Breaks and service learning classes, which focus on community issues like hunger and homelessness, the environment, violence and other topics. Groups of students travel around the country during winter, spring and summer breaks to assist communities away from the university. Students who are looking to help out on the local level can participate with Alternative Breaks once a month for Service Saturdays.

Better Together is a relatively new student organization at GVSU that stems from a national movement run by the Interfaith Youth Core. At GVSU, the group aims to create space for people to voice their values and engage with people across lines of religious difference.

All of these opportunities and student groups not only allow for students to get involved with the GVSU community, but they also provide experiences outside of the university. There are many opportunities for students to give back to the communities around them, and it is important to do so to help make these areas better places to live.