Sacred Heart University provides many opportunities for students to get involved in the local community. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Volunteer Programs and Service Learning has been creating new ways for students to get involved.
“We are ramping up with Adopt a Family in October before students leave us to spend Thanksgiving at home. It might look a little different, but we are providing gifts and food for 85 families from the Bridgeport area. Because of the protocols of touching and wrapping gifts, we thought it would be better to do gift cards for them,” said Arlete Perez from the Office of Volunteer Programs and Service Learning.
Although community service is being impacted by COVID-19, Annie Wendel, Assistant Director of Volunteer Programs and Service Learning, said that there will still be opportunities to volunteer and get involved in the community.
“Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we have transitioned our community engagement opportunities to a virtual format. We encourage students to get involved through virtual civic education and social action activities, which together help students to develop the knowledge, skills, and commitments to interact effectively with fellow community members to address shared problems,” said Wendel.
In addition to these virtual volunteer opportunities, there will be a virtual CURTIS Week and Global Service Learning Programs in January over winter break.
“CURTIS Week is a program that connects faith and service, as volunteers share their time and talent with local organizations through service, as well as participate in interfaith conversations with our university chaplains. This year, the program will run virtually from Jan. 11-14,” said Wendel.
The program will also be hosting their annual Global Service Learning Programs from Jan. 18-22. Students will have the opportunity to immerse themselves virtually in global communities in Italy, Bolivia, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico; learning about the culture and social, environmental and political factors that impact the community.
“The students will engage in virtual service projects that bridge local and global themes and will earn a course credit for their participation. Both programs are great ways to make use of extra time over winter break, earn service hours or even an extra credit,” said Wendel.
Community service does not just happen during winter break. Students can get involved anytime during the academic school year.
“Our opportunities include volunteering at local food pantries, soup kitchens, senior centers and public schools,” said Wendel.
The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life is also still trying to hold philanthropy and service events to provide opportunities for students to get involved in the community.
Junior Owen Ginley, executive board member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, said, “Due to the coronavirus pandemic, our philanthropy plans were derailed just like a lot of other people’s plans. We usually do a powderpuff event in the fall where we have all the sororities make football teams and play in a tournament. Each sorority pays money to make a team, and the proceeds go to the juvenile diabetes resource fund. Since we couldn’t do this, we are hoping to do our Haircuts for Heroes event, where people pay money to have their names entered in a raffle and three winners get to shave a brother’s head, and the proceeds of this go to military heroes.”
Even with the current pandemic, Sacred Heart University is pushing through and still making a massive effort to allow students to be involved and give back to the local community.