Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Students respond positively to economic depression

Rachel Barclay and Molly Lyons serving food at the Oklahoma City Rescue Mission. Barclay and Lyons are two of several girls that volunteer at the City Rescue Mission every Friday.

While the country remains in a lousy economic depression, college students are responding in a constructive way.

Rather than lounging around and feeling sorry for the nation, students are taking the initiative to volunteer. In fact, this year's Big Event, a campus wide volunteering project, had the highest number of participants than it ever has.

OU has seen other numbers increase recently, said Kari Dawkins, assistant director of the Leadership Development and Volunteerism program.

"Big Event went great," Dawkins said. "We also had more students role out for Arbor Day than we ever have before. We were expecting 40 or so students to show up but over 200 did."

According to a study by Corporation for National and Community Service, student volunteer numbers have increased by over 20 percent from 2002 to 2005.

Since then, the number has been estimated to have increased as 43 percent of college students twenty years or older volunteer every year, making them the most active age group, according to Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.

These statistics are no stranger to students at OU as they continue to answer the call to serve by getting involved both on and off campus.

OU freshman Rachel Barclay said she felt the call to help other people in their time of need. Earlier in the year, Barclay and a friend got a group together and began volunteering at the City Rescue Mission in Oklahoma City.

The girls make the trip to Oklahoma City every Friday to serve food to the lower class, homeless and volunteers at the City Rescue Mission.

"[My friend and I] had been talking about volunteering for a while," Barclay said. "Finally, we got together and actually did it and have been doing it for most of the semester."

The group started with just a couple of girls but now has grown to six or seven, said Barclay.

"I actually found it to be a lot of fun," she said. "I found that I enjoyed helping people and it really made me feel good."

Freshman Molly Lyons said the group went earlier in the semester in January as part of a Bible study.

"After the first time we went, we all fell in love with the City Rescue Mission," Lyons said.

She said the group felt it to be their duty to help other people who are enduring hard times. After going one Friday in January, Lyons, among others, has made it part of her every Friday routine.

"The people really are so grateful," she said. "It makes a world of difference to them and it really makes me feel good to make their day that much better."

Tiffany Webb of the City Rescue Mission said the girls' work has been priceless.

"They have been great, not only them, but all of the students that come here to volunteer," Webb said. "They really do make a world of difference."

Barclay and Lyons both said the City Rescue Mission is always looking for volunteers. Those interested can visit their website at or they can simply visit the establishment in Oklahoma City to see how they can get involved.

Dawkins said her department has many volunteer opportunities for students to get active and get involved.

The Leadership Development and Volunteer office is located on the second floor of the Oklahoma Memorial Union, where students are welcome to walk in anytime from eight a.m. to five p.m.

A comment from Molly Lyons:

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