The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Opportunities and Resources to Utilize During National Volunteer Month

How to do your part during the thirty day celebration.
Photo Courtesy / Unsplash ray sangga kusuma

Observed as National Volunteer Month, April spends its thirty days highlighting generous services and acts. “It salutes [volunteers] for their unwavering services to businesses and communities and hold aloft their examples to inspire young and adults towards volunteerism,” defines National Today.

More often than not, volunteers are unpaid, generously donating both time and energy to the behind-the-scenes services that not many are willing to do, like cleaning up after an event or picking up litter outside. 

However, volunteering can be incorporated into our everyday lives — it does not have to be a grand gesture that consumes hours upon hours. 

A good option that is unfortunately no longer available, when shopping on Amazon — which nine out of ten Americans do — rather than typing in “amazon.com,” enter “smile.amazon.com.” By doing so, Amazon makes a donation to an organization of your choice, which is clarified prior to purchasing an item. Easy and painless, smile.amazon.com comes at no extra cost to its users; no new account is required and there is no charge. Amazon simply donates a portion of the profits from each purchase that is made. 

Senior Gia Bovino says that smile.amazon.com “is such an easy way to donate. I mean, I’m already purchasing for myself, so why wouldn’t I make the simple gesture of putting ‘smile’ in front of the URL so I can donate to a charity who really needs it?”

Another way to donate free of charge is to donate your time. The Red Cross, a nonprofit relief organization, provides immense aid to communities in disasters and emergencies. The organization looks for volunteers with diverse backgrounds, whether that be blood donors, data entry workers or even drivers for the organization, as stated on its website.

Not only does the Red Cross provide clothing and food supplies to locals, but they also assist military facilities in providing mental and physical aid to veterans and those currently deployed. 

While St. John’s provides students with suggestions through service and donation experiences, the University actually requires students, through the Discover New York core required course, to complete a minimum of six volunteer hours through the Academic Service-Learning (AS-L) program. 

Junior Elisabeth Casey shares her enriching AS-L experience at the height of the pandemic.

“I volunteered as a reader for a virtual library, reading to kids with disabilities,” says Casey. “It was an oddly nostalgic experience; I had to record myself reading my favorite children’s books, using different voices and making sure I showed the pictures clearly to the camera.”

Casey added that she “loved that I was able to read stories to children, making them feel at home and comfortable, even though we were not face-to-face.”

Another valuable volunteer position offered by St. John’s is the “Midnight Run” — a service opportunity that aims to combat the lack of food and clothing for the homeless. Students can volunteer to venture into the city at night with supplies. Before being driven to Manhattan, students meet up to make sandwiches, organize hygiene products and pack clothing. Run by Campus Ministry, this program allows students to have direct encounters with the homeless population to learn their stories. 

“The Midnight Run was an amazing experience that gave me the opportunity to give back to those who are less fortunate,” says sophomore Isabel Notaro. Alongside friends, Notaro volunteered for the Run in Fall 2022. 

“Everyone was so grateful to us — for both our presents and presence — which made it all worthwhile,” says Notaro. 

It is evident that volunteering provides every company involved with satisfaction and smiles, no matter if you donate blood or simply your time. 

It’s important to remember that April does not have to be the only month in which volunteering is highlighted. There are so many ways in which students can incorporate in their everyday lives donating time, effort and money to organizations that aim to make the world a better place.

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About the Contributor
Olivia Rainson, Social Media Manager & Asst. Features Editor
Olivia Rainson is a junior English major and creative writing minor serving as the Social Media Manager. She also works at the University Writing Center and is on the editorial board of the Intersections Literary Magazine. Olivia has been with the Torch since the beginning of her sophomore year, and when she isn’t writing, you can find her reading with an iced coffee. Olivia can be reached at [email protected]  

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