Students take advantage of volunteer opportunities

Chelsea Ewaldt

Promoters are gearing up for Make a Difference Day later this month and are looking for more student volunteers. With only 40 student groups signed up, the NMU Volunteer Center is hoping to reach the same number as last year, which saw 1,400 volunteers sign up and 240 lawns raked. “This year we are currently sitting at 170 yards, but we still have three weeks until the big day,” said Seth Kratz, a volunteer coordinator for NMU’s Volunteer Center.

Students and organizations volunteer to rake leaves and do other yard work for the local community as part of Make a Difference Day each year. (Kristen Koehler NW)
Students and organizations volunteer to rake leaves and do other yard work for the local community as part of Make a Difference Day each year. (Kristen Koehler NW)

There are many different volunteer services that NMU students and organizations offer during Make a Difference Day.

“We raked yards, washed windows, moved logs from a tree that had been cut down by the county, and cover flower beds with tarps,” said Courtney Berg, a senior clinical laboratory sciences student.

Make a Difference Day is the largest national day of community service and unites millions of volunteers to celebrate neighbors helping neighbors. This national event was created in 1990 by USA WEEKEND magazine.

“It makes such a difference for the members of our community. it’s a few hours out of your day,” said Carrie Grishaber, a volunteer coordinator. “It just means the world. We get phone calls year round.”

Northern Michigan University’s Volunteer Center exclusively plans Marquette’s Make a Difference Day.

“It was great to know that the organized effort to make a difference really benefitted our surrounding community,” said Jordan Norris, a senior art student with a concentration in photography.

Norris has previously participated in Make a Difference Day and said she is excited to have the opportunity to take part again this year with the Woodland Park Apartments’ student group.

“I think that I was in fact making a difference and that I was benefitting people who were incapable of doing so themselves, that really gave me the most fulfillment,” Norris said. “It’s definitely rewarding to know that you made a difference not only in the community, but in someone’s life as well.”

This year Make a Difference Day occurs during family weekend.

“We are trying to tell students that even if their parents are here, they can still help out,” Kratz said. “Either their group goes early in the morning and they are done by 11 a.m. or they go later and their parents or brothers and sisters can help.”

Students who are not part of an organization but would like to participate can do so as well Kratz said.

“We do have single people sign up to rake and then we just give them a small yard,” Kratz said. “If they could find just one other person it would make their job a whole lot easier.

“We can also match them with other singles so it would be a good opportunity to meet new people.”

Make a Difference Day kicks off at 7 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 26. Student organizations and volunteers can sign in by the Peter White Lobby. If groups are early they can be first in line for T-shirts and breakfast. This year breakfast will be held upstairs in the Great Lakes Rooms. Then it’s time to start making a difference.

“We also have a limited supply of rakes,” Kratz said. “The earlier the groups get there, the better chance they have at getting a rake.”

Registration for the event is open until 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11. Forms to register student organizations can be found at www.nmu.edu/service/node/10. For more information on Make a Difference Day, contact the Volunteer Center at [email protected] (906)227- 2466.