Virtual Volunteering Rises Amidst Physically Distanced Guidelines

June 9, 2020

The Center for Community Engaged Learning Providing Secondary Options to Help Students Find Opportunities to be Involved

The closure of Michigan State University’s campus has caused students to find ways to adapt to a new virtual world. For many, summer plans consist of volunteer work and engagement within their community. Although physically distancing practices are still in place, the Center for Community Engaged Learning has developed opportunities for Spartans to volunteer virtually.

Sixteen service projects are available for students to be a part of through the months of June-August. For students who want to earn the Spartan Volunteer Service Award, volunteering virtually will count towards students’ total hours. A student will need over 100 hours of service to be eligible for the award.

“The center felt that it was important to quickly come up with ways for students to still be engaged. There are over 32,000 students that volunteer annually,” said Renee Brown, CCEL director. “Being restricted, we realized that in the first couple of days, we would have to redesign things to make sure students could continue to serve and earn volunteer hours. This is our way in response to be helpful, for both students and the community.”

Sophie Morin, recent graduate of Michigan State University who now works for AmeriCorps and has been placed in the CCEL for the upcoming year, came up with the idea for the virtual experience. Morin’s plan is to increase volunteerism among those up to age 24.

The first service project will be posted on June 15, 2020. After that day, every Monday CCEL will post on its Instagram page two new projects for students to join. An additional one to two projects will also be posted later in that same week.

Students should be able to complete at least one project a week. However, participants will be able to partake in as many projects as they wish. Because of this, CCEL has created four categories of awards.

  • Bronze Level awards will be allocated to those who complete eight to 11 projects.
  • Silver Level awarded to those who took part on 12 to 15 projects.
  • Gold Level are earned by those who participate in 16 to 19 projects.
  • Platinum Level will be awarded to those who complete 20+ projects. They will also be entered into a raffle to win an Echo Dot.

On top of the virtual volunteering opportunities, there will be four optional reflection sessions throughout the summer. These sessions will be held over ZOOM and will include different speakers on a variety of topics. This will offer the opportunity for students to talk with and hear for many perspectives from the Spartan community.

Once a service project is completed, a reflection is needed for each project to confirm hours. These reflection posts are brief and are due at 11:59 p.m. on Sundays for those projects completed in the previous week. Those who choose not to fill out the reflection will not be credited the hours.

Tracking volunteer hours will be easy and convenient, as well. By going on the MSU Civic Life App, students can retrace how many hours they have completed. For those wishing to put in the 100+ hours for the Spartan Volunteer Service Award, this tool will be a great resource to keep everything recorded.

CCEL has also made it possible to help out with local, national and international opportunities. Some possibilities of volunteering include, helping with research, transcribing documents and making masks for people all around the world.

“I feel that now, more than ever, is the time to understand one another through service and engagement. We have to emphasize and understand different perspectives to make a strong community,” Brown said. “This is the time to be innovative and helpful by connecting people to one another. I am so glad we came up with this impactful program.”

For anyone still searching for summer plans, virtual volunteering may be a viable option. There is bound to be a virtual volunteering opportunity for every Spartan’s interest and schedule. Start volunteering today!

To learn more about the CCEL summer volunteering options, visit communityengagedlearning.msu.edu

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