Pre-orientation program Project Serve connects dozens of TU volunteers with local nonprofits
TOWSON, Md. (Sept. 26, 2012)—Hunter Haines has sold lemonade to fight childhood cancer and traveled to Belize to help build homes and schools. Working with philanthropic and relief programs as a high school student instilled in him a passion for service that he has brought to Towson University this fall.
Seeking to jump-start his volunteerism as a freshman, Haines participated in Project Serve, a pre-orientation service program for new students. More than 50 volunteers signed up to spend two days working with a dozen nonprofits across the Baltimore area.
"I love doing service work because it gives me a chance to really make an impact," says Haines. "It's where I feel comfortable, and Project Serve gave me a chance to meet other people that also enjoy volunteering."
Project Serve participants had the opportunity to work in a variety of service environments, from pulling weeds and planting seeds at a state park to assisting the elderly at a retirement community to preparing food for those with chronic illness in Baltimore.
"This program gives incoming students an opportunity to participate in great volunteer experiences right from the start," says Corinne DeRoberts, coordinator of community service in Student Activities. "We hope this gives them the motivation to take on a leadership role in future service efforts."
Haines and more than 30 other Project Serve participants traveled to Baltimore's east side to pick up trash and debris from the shoreline of the Back River. Wearing high rubber boots up to their knees, volunteers waded into the river to collect garbage and fill dozens of trash bags.
"We depend on the volunteers and the hard work of others," explains Anna Thomas of the Back River Restoration Committee. "It's incredibly important for us to get help from students like those from Towson."
Since completing Project Serve Haines has sought new volunteer opportunities, joining Students Helping Honduras and the Towson chapter of Habitat for Humanity chapter. He will return next year to Project Serve as a facilitator, leading a new group of freshmen through the program.
He says the feeling he gets from helping others will always keep him coming back to service programs.
"I know I'm fortunate and getting a college education is the least of that," Haines admits. "My opportunity is rare when you look at the whole world and it makes me want to give back."