What Are You Giving for Thanksgiving?

Have you volunteered lately?

“My family supports small charities in our hometown, and it inspires me to help out people on campus as well as communities in the area,” said junior Ben Carson. “Community Outreach to Bridgeport is an organization that my fraternity and I are involved in and we help clean the streets of Bridgeport as well as plant trees in local gardens.”

Between Oct. 14-27, Sacred Heart University’s Institute for Public Policy and Civic Engagement polled 1,000 Connecticut residents on how Covid-19 has impacted their giving and volunteerism.

According to Sacred Heart’s website, “The institute is an independent, non-partisan organization that brings together scholars, public officials, and citizens to create a more deliberate and just democracy.”

The results of the poll show that 75.4% of respondents either strongly agree or agree that it is important to give money or time to charities, which has been even more strongly expressed by the pandemic, where nearly one-third of the respondents agreed.

However, as reported by Sacred Heart, “While intentions seem good, actions show that pre- and post-pandemic giving and volunteerism has not actually changed significantly. In fact, 31.8% indicated they volunteer and donate the same amount post-pandemic as they did pre-pandemic, while only 7.3% indicated they both volunteer more time and donate more money.”

While the results may show little change in volunteer work, students are still optimistic about what they can do to help the local community.

“Even though Covid-19 impacts how some people volunteer, it doesn’t mean that we can’t help people who are in need,” said sophomore Sam Easton. “As a Theatre Arts Program member, we donated close to half a ton of food for our food drive this semester.”

In addition to some clubs and organizations at Sacred Heart collecting donations to help those in the local community, students also have access to the Office of Volunteer Programs and Service Learning to find new ways to assist others.

“It is important to acknowledge that both goods and services are needed to support our non-profit partners, especially recovering from the financial impact of Covid-19,” said Annie Wendel, director of Volunteer Programs and Service Learning.

“Students begin their involvement with the Volunteer Programs and Service Learning Office during their freshman year through the Pioneer Service Grant, which helps them connect with nonprofit organizations and continue their interest in their new SHU community,” said Wendel.

Some students feel that the community service programs offered at Sacred Heart make the university stand out from other schools.

“This is what sets Sacred Heart apart from other schools,” said sophomore Victor Dipierro. “The community here is special, and we should be proud of all the amazing amount of donations and service we have done for the communities around the area.”

Regardless, the need for putting words into action to help those within the local community remains the same.

In an interview with Sacred Heart, Steven Michels, director of the Institute for Public Policy and Civic Engagement, said, “This poll shows us that people believe it’s more important now than ever to donate time and money, but they haven’t really changed their behavior.”

“It’s hard to draw a clear conclusion for this gap in giving,” he said. “It could be that people believe that others are doing more, so they don’t have to. Or it could be because of the financial and health concerns from Covid-19.”

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