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Joy of giving

Student volunteers make a difference during midterm break

Student Life

By Laura Barron

More than 120 students and staff from Memorial University volunteered one day of their midterm break to help six community partners in 11 off-campus locations recently.

Students cooked meals at Choices for Youth, sorted clothes and household goods at the Association for New Canadians, went on a Street Reach walk at Thrive, played games and socialized with seniors at five long-term care facilities, helped plan events with the Children’s Wish Foundation, conducted volunteer service in French at Le Centre Scholaire et Communautaire du Grands Vents and much more.

1/ Make Midterm Matter: Winter 2016

More than 120 students volunteered for Make Midterm Matter on Feb. 24.

Photo: Deena Riggs

2/ Sorting supplies

Students helped organize clothes and donations at the Association for New Canadians.

Photo: Deena Riggs

3/ Kitchen helpers

Students made a meal for young people at Choices for Youth.

Photo: Deena Riggs

4/ Brainstorming

Students participated in a brainstorming session at Choices for Youth, where they discussed innovative approaches to fundraising for the not-for-profit charitable organization.

Photo: Deena Riggs

5/ En francais, s'il vous plait

Students conducted volunteer service in French at Le Centre Scholaire et Communautaire du Grands Vents.

Photo: Natalie Spracklin

Tradition of giving

For the past 12 years, Make Midterm Matter has been a community service learning day for students at Memorial. Each semester, one day of midterm break is dedicated to helping make our community a better place to live, work and study.

“Understanding the operations and background work helps us learn that the big-small things do matter.” — Dr. Shannon Lewis-Simpson

This commitment to service learning helps students see how they fit into the community and encourages them to think about how they can apply their academic studies in practical, helpful ways.

“We’re training civic leaders—academic leaders,” said Dr. Shannon Lewis-Simpson, experiential learning co-ordinator. “But, before you lead, you must learn how to follow. Understanding the operations and background work helps us learn that the big-small things do matter. ”

Along with the active portion of the day, reflection is a key component of the experience.

“We ask students to reflect upon what they have learned, and to think about how their studies have a connection to community,” said Lisa Russell, manager, experiential learning. “It’s remarkable how the day changes them, and changes the way they see themselves, others, the community and the issues we’re facing.”

Community connection

Laura Hoffe, a fourth-year student in the Faculty of Science, has volunteered with Make Midterm Matter for the past two years. She believes volunteering helps students feel more connected to the university and to the community.

“You get out there for one day and really contribute to the community,” said Ms. Hoffe. “If you don’t have the time to volunteer on a weekly basis, this is a great opportunity to give to a community organization.”

Ms. Hoffe also credits her volunteering experience with Memorial’s Student Volunteer Bureau and Make Midterm Matter for helping her determine her post-graduation plans.

“Volunteering helped me realize what I want to do. I love helping people. I love the policy behind not-for-profit organizations, and I became really interested in that through volunteering. You’re taking what you’re learning in the classroom and putting it toward something, so it gives you a better understanding of your studies and of yourself.”


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