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Released April 16, 2004

   Click here to see the Volunteer Week schedule
click here to see the photo

By David Tisdale

HATTIESBURG -- Since last fall, University of Southern Mississippi students, faculty and staff have registered approximately 40,000 hours of volunteer service to the community, and next week that figure will increase sharply.

That's because the university community will participate in a variety of service projects throughout the Hattiesburg area in conjunction with National Volunteer Week April 19-24.

"Our mission is to promote volunteerism and address service needs in our community," said Hunter Phillips, assistant director of the Office of Community Service Learning. "We seek to combine resources, ideas and energy of both the community and university."

Volunteer projects slated for the week range from collection of care baskets for the elderly, work on a Habitat for Humanity house, tutoring in an after-school program and a clean-up project at the Hattiesburg Zoo, among many others activities.

Since the fall 2003 semester, students, faculty, staff, and administration have contributed 39,962 hours to the Hattiesburg community. That number reflects hours recorded through the Office of Community Service Learning. More hours are also served on the campus. For 2002-2003, OCSL recorded 28,000 volunteer service hours by faculty, staff, students and administration.

According to, one hour of volunteer service is worth $17.19. Therefore, Southern Miss has contributed an equivalent of more than $740,000 through voluntary service hours.

The Office of Community Service Learning sponsors at least one campus-wide service day/week per month. In the fall semester, the first-year service plunge, female recruitment service day, and male recruitment service day, Make a Difference Week, and National Volunteer Week generated 3,807 service hours to local nonprofit organizations. Though it cannot be quantified in service hours, 150 Salvation Army angels were adopted on campus through OCSL's Salvation Army Angel Tree in the R.C. Cook Union.

Many Southern Miss faculty members incorporate service-learning in their courses, giving students opportunities to apply academic theory to their community service projects.

"Classes that encourage students to apply their knowledge in the community, even as they are gaining it, foster the whole person," said Dr. Martina Sciolino, associate professor of English at Southern Miss.

Southern Miss President Shelby Thames and Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree each made proclamations recently in recognition of National Volunteer Week to salute the volunteer efforts of the university and city to serve the community.

"I'm so proud of the students here at Southern Miss who are giving back to the community through volunteerism," said Thames. "Their efforts make our community stronger by giving to people and organizations who need assistance. At the same time, these students discover how they can utilize their knowledge and talents to better the world around them."

Cassandra Dillon, director of the Aldersgate Mission in Hattiesburg, an after-school program supported by Main Street United Methodist Church for at-risk children in grades K-6, said volunteers are a key element of the program's success.

"There's no possible way to get it done without volunteers," Dillon said. Aldersgate serves children who live in the Briarfield Apartments in East Hattiesburg and in surrounding neighborhoods. "Volunteering is the strongest act of unselfish giving that you can do," she said.

Sarah McMurtry of Madison is a freshman at Southern Miss and a Lucky Day scholar. Lucky Day scholars at Southern Miss give 20 hours of service to the community as part of the scholarship program.

As a tutor at the Danny Levi Hinton Community Center in the Palmer's Crossing community, McMurtry helps students ages 5-16 with their homework, and organizes art activities such as painting and pottery projects. "It's had a big impact on me," McMurtry said of her service at the center. "I'm getting hands-on experience for my major (social and rehabilitation services), working with underprivileged kids. I'm learning how I can mold myself to help them with their needs."

In addition to gaining career experience, McMurtry is also being rewarded personally. One of the students she tutors looks to her not only for help with homework, but also as a role model.

"It's hard to reach out to just one student at the center because it's a big group of kids, but one that looks up to me is opening up to me, telling me her thoughts about school," McMurtry said. "She's 16, and that's a crucial age for a female. I can be like a big sister to her, give her that reinforcement that I'm there for her.

"Just knowing that I'm a positive influence and that I'm able to motivate her to do well in school means a lot to me. Just to be there for her is amazing."

For more information about National Volunteer Week activities or about other volunteer opportunities through the university, contact the Office of Community Service Learning at (601) 266-5074.

National Volunteer Week Schedule
April 19-24, 2004

Monday, April 19

Clothing Drive--Student religious organizations
• Participants will place boxes at pre-set locations on and off campus to collect clothing for Christian Services. This event will be ongoing throughout the week.

Volunteer Forum--Campus Link and VISION
• A discussion on issues and events pertaining to student volunteerism at 5:15 p.m. in Union Room G.

American Humanics Pizza Night
• Fund-raiser for American Humanics annual conference. This event will be held at Pizza Hut next to Blockbuster Video on Hardy Street. American Humanics is a national nonprofit management certification program. Southern Miss is home to the only AH program in Mississippi.

Tuesday, April 20

Hattiesburg Zoo Clean-up
• Volunteers will work to clean up the Hattiesburg Zoo in observance of Earth Day from 10 a.m. - noon.

Habitat for Humanity
• Volunteers will work on a local Habitat house from 2:30-6 p.m.

After-school Tutoring and Mentoring at Palmer's Crossing
• Volunteers will assist students with homework and facilitate positive recreational activities with children age seven to 15 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Danny Levi Hinton Community Center.

Lucky Day Scholars End-of-the-Year Celebration
• Bolton Hall FYE meeting room, first floor Bolton Hall, Southern Miss from 8-10 a.m.
Lucky Day scholars at Southern Miss serve 20 hours per semester in the Hattiesburg community, engaging individually with social service agencies and the needs they serve.

Wednesday, April 21

Bake Sale/Canned Food Drive--DREAM
• Participants will work bake sale tables in Shoemaker Square from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., the proceeds from which will be used to fight hunger. The canned food drive will be ongoing throughout the week.

Blood Drive--VISION
• Blood donations will be accepted in the Student Union Lobby from 11 a.m.- 4 p.m.

Care Baskets for the Elderly--IDEAL Women
• Members of IDEAL Women will be making care baskets for residents of the Windham House with children from Pine Haven. This event will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

Thursday, April 22

Bake Sale--DREAM
• Participants will work bake sale tables in Shoemaker Square from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., the proceeds from which will be used to fight hunger.

Care Basket Distribution--IDEAL Women
• Members of IDEAL Women will deliver care baskets to the residents of the Windham House from 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Volunteer Appreciation Banquet
• Appreciation and awards event for organizations and volunteers from the surrounding area. Festivities will begin at 6 p.m. in Union Rooms A, B, and C.

Friday, April 23

Christian Services Faculty/Staff Volunteer Day
• Faculty and staff volunteers will serve a meal at Christian Services' Community Kitchen from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

Clothing and Canned Food Drives Collection
• Participants will leave campus at 3 p.m. to pick up drop-boxes from the clothing and canned food drives.

Elementary School Painting Project--Delta Tau Delta Fraternity
• Members of Delta Tau Delta and additional volunteers will be painting the school buildings at Rawls Springs Elementary School. Be sure to wear old clothes!

Saturday, April 24

Christian Services Food Box Distribution
• Volunteers will help with the unloading and distributing of bulk food boxes from 9 a.m. -noon.

Palmer's Crossing Carnival
• Fun and games with children from the Palmer's Crossing community from
10 a.m. -2 p.m.

Hattiesburg Zoo Day--Southern Miss Anthropological Society/Mississippi Reads
• Children from the surrounding area will learn about animals, attend speeches given by area police officers and firefighters, and have story time from 1-4 p.m.

Additional Events

Inspiring Quote Display--Campus Civitan Club
• Members of the Campus Civitan Club will display signs outside the University Commons with inspiring quotes about service.

Bedford Care Nursing Home--American Humanics
• Members from American Humanics will provide entertainment for residents of the Bedford Care Nursing Home from 2-3:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 25.

Story Time with Circle K
• Circle K will read to elementary school children at various sites throughout the week.

For directions or more information on any events, please contact the Office of Community Service Learning at 266-5074



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April 20, 2004 4:48 PM