While community service involvement during the school year may satisfy the needs of some local organizations, some say students could be more involved – especially those who remain in Oxford over the summer.
Multiple service organizations – such as the United Way Oxford, Oxford Church of God, Kiwanis Club, Lions Club and Rotary Club – depend on the volunteer efforts of both students and residents to provide assistance and address the needs of the community, said Mary Jo Clark, administrator for The Family Resource Center in Oxford.
Clark added that, on a weekly basis, volunteer groups are comprised of about half Miami University students and half residents.
Clark said professors’ efforts are helping increase the number of student volunteers around Oxford.
“Student involvement is increasing, especially since more and more professors are adding a service learning component to their classes,” she said.
However, Maureen Kranbuhl, executive director of United Way Oxford, said student involvement could be even higher.
“(I) would absolutely like to see more student involvement,” Kranbuhl said.
According to Kranbuhl, most of the contributors to the United Way Oxford are residents who make a donation and then further inquire about service opportunities.
“At this point, we have more residents participating than students,” Kranbuhl said. Another large resource for community service is Miami’s Office of Community Engagement and Service, which provides opportunities for students to learn through exposure and collaboration with local community organizations.
The organization promotes service opportunities by supporting the yearly on-campus Volunteer Fair and programs such as Adopt-A-School and Empower, said Miami senior Laura Smith, the upcoming community partnerships coordinator for Miami’s Office of Community Engagement and Service.
Smith added that her office finds volunteers through a listserv, by visiting classes and by encouraging students at residence halls to become involved.
“We talk to students and find out what service project best fits the needs of the community and the students’ interests,” Smith said.
But one issue is that while students may leave Oxford during the summertime, the need for community service is year round.
Smith said that the Office of Community Engagement and Service will encourage students taking summer classes to volunteer. Smith further explained that approximately 4,000 students go through the office during the school year, in comparison to about five during the summer.
“Many of the local organizations we send volunteers to during the school year suffer during the summer due to lack of student support,” Smith said.
In summer months, The Family Resource Center relies on residents, not students, to fulfill its volunteer workload. Clark stated that in 2006, more than 700 individuals from Oxford donated their time.
“(We depend) on year-round residents to provide the volunteers,” Clark said.
Bobbe Burke, Miami’s coordinator of off-campus affairs, reiterated Clark’s observation of reduced volunteers during the summer months.
“Many local organizations are stuck in the summer months,” Burke said. “They don’t get as much attention.”
Burke added that local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, religious organizations, youth groups and little league teams often fill the void to replace missing college students.
A large portion of student involvement during the school year comes from Greek organizations, both social and service oriented, Burke said.
Senior Nora Fritz, president of the co-ed service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega, is in charge of the organization’s 192 members, nearly 100 of which are new pledges.
Members of Alpha Phi Omega, which usually begins pledging within the first month of each new semester, are required to complete at least 20 hours of service each semester, Fritz said.
Alpha Phi Omega supports organizations such as the Animal Adoption Foundation, The Knolls of Oxford and the St. Francis Soup Kitchen in Cincinnati.
Greek social sororities and fraternities also host numerous philanthropic events throughout the year.
Lindsey Riehl, sophomore and philanthropy chair of Kappa Kappa Gamma, said that Greek volunteer events can benefit all students.
“Philanthropy events which are put on by the Greek chapters are a great way to involve the rest of the Greek community as well as by other students at Miami (in community service),” Riehl said.
Riehl also added that no set requirements concerning community service hours are required by the Panhellenic Association, however some individual sororities require members to complete a particular amount of service.
Meghan Davis, a first year member of Phi Mu, explained the volunteer requirements of her sorority.
“Phi Mu members are required to attend specific philanthropy events hosted by other sororities and fraternities such as Delta Zeta’s Putting on the Hits and Kappa Alpha Order’s Bump It Thump It to show collaboration within the Greek community and to support a good cause,” she said.
Shannon Meter, a first-year member of Alpha Chi Omega, echoed Davis’ sentiments.
“Alpha Chi Omega does not require a certain number of hours of service, participation is expected to positively represent our sorority and to show commitment to the Greek community as a whole,” Meter said.
Laura Smith expressed hope that students will meet volunteer needs this summer.
“For the organizations that rely on students throughout the year, the summer is a huge loss,” Smith said. “We will be here, encouraging anyone staying on campus or living in the area to volunteer.”