Campus gathers to service community

Volunteer work, though done for others, is about to take the spotlight for itself this week. Today is the start of campus-wide Service Week, a service festival implemented by the Service Advisory Council in hopes of publicizing service opportunities for all students.

A service week was held last year, but it received a disappointing turnout, according to the Office of Student Life.

“It wasn’t as successful as hoped due to a lack of publicity,” said Monica Bebie, coordinator of Greek life and of community service initiatives on campus.

Bebie hopes to better publicize this year’s events.

Several months of planning and the combined efforts of about a dozen service groups have resulted in a well structured week which will begin with a service organization fair today.

Lindsay Liu, a sophomore biology major and president of the Carnegie United Toward Increased Effort in Service (CUTIES) spoke excitedly about today’s fair.

“Students visiting the fair will receive imitation passports which, when filled with stamps from the different organizations, can be traded in for free prizes including candy, reusable shopping bags, and thermoses,” she said.

This evening, keynote speaker Robert Egger, the founder and president of DC Central Kitchen, will speak about his experiences and the impact which service has had on his life and the lives of others.

Liu said that CUTIES will sponsor an event later in the week at which they will host a “group of inner city, at-risk kids [who are] typically under the poverty line and in need of supportive mentors.”

CUTIES will try to fulfill this need through a variety of activities held on Thursday at the University Center. Other groups, such as Circle K and East End Youth tutoring, are also attempting to improve the lives of young children by creating Valentine’s Day cards for elementary school students in Pittsburgh.

Additional events include a blood drive sponsored by Pi Kappa Alpha, a raffle held by Strong Women Strong Girls, an international silent auction held by Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), and the construction and painting of picnic tables under the guidance of Alpha Phi Omega.

According to Sharon Wong, a junior computer science major and member of Alpha Phi Omega, the organization “saw a need for the tables and realized that they provided a chance to do something for the community.”

Service in the environmental sector will be promoted by Focus the Nation, a nationwide organization working to increase awareness of global warming and potential solutions.
This Wednesday, a national webcast titled “2% Solution” will be held on the Carnegie Mellon campus about the merits and feasibility of these solutions. Panelists speaking in the webcast include Hunter Lovins, CEO of Natural Capitalism, and Van Jones, executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. On Friday, Pittsburgh residents will have an opportunity to meet with local politicians to discuss the stances taken on these policies.

Vanessa Schweizer, a Ph.D student in engineering and public policy, hopes that Focus the Nation will help the United States to realize that “it is not even a participant right now in the struggle to find solutions to climate change” and needs to follow the lead of European nations when creating environmental policies.

Service week will come to an end this Saturday with a Habitat for Humanity building project as well as a Service Crawl in which small groups of students will be given a list of tasks to complete throughout Pittsburgh. According to Bebie, this will “allow students to experience multiple service agencies” and get a feel for the variety of opportunities available in the field of service.