Once you’ve settled on campus, you’ll notice there are a lot of events and fundraising campaigns going on throughout the semester. Volunteering some of your spare time can have many benefits – even if it’s not for a charity but for things like the college paper or radio station.
I began fundraising two years ago when I held a fashion show fundraiser in aid of Corbett Suicide prevention patrol and Limerick Marine Search and Rescue. My fundraising efforts would go towards life-saving equipment for both teams, which was such an amazing feeling, to know that such a small gesture could help save a life.
Since then, I have got involved in the Great Limerick Run, worked with Spina Bifida, slept homeless for the Simon community, and was the chairperson of the Darkness into Light sub-committee on campus.
Why should you get involved?
1. You Get To Make Friends
Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, especially if you find it hard to make friends in your course or on campus. I wasn’t interested in any sports or clubs so decided to get involved in the college community a different way! People often want to help a charity that’s close to their heart, for example, the Irish Cancer Society or Pieta House. When a loved one has benefited greatly from these services, it’s an amazing feeling to be able to give back.
2. You Get To Gain Experience
Another benefit is the experience you gain whilst volunteering your time. As a full time student, you might find it difficult to hold up a part-time job while trying to do assignments, study for exams, and have a social life. Employers will always notice if you have volunteered, even if you have no previous retail experience, for example. You have gained skills in communication, showed motivation to get active, to participate, to give up your free time, and to work for free.
3. You Get The Feel-Good Factor
I found volunteering helped a lot with my mental health. Instead of sitting around at home alone, buried in my dark thoughts, I tried to channel my energy elsewhere. When working with charities like Spina Bifida and the Simon Community, you get an insight to all walks of life. Instead of feeling sorry myself, I thought about how lucky I was to have a roof over my head, or be able to do every day tasks, like walk up the stairs.
4. You Get To Be Creative
Volunteering doesn’t have to be all bucket collections and bake sales – be creative! Plan fun events that could get the whole campus involved, like shaving the beard you’ve been growing for the last 11 months or skydiving! When we held our registration day for Pieta Houses flagship event, Darkness into light, we got huge speakers, a wicked playlist, a heap of volunteers, tonnes of sweets, lollipops and goodies, and created a fun atmosphere while the sun blazed down in the courtyard! Everyone got involved! It was Pieta House’s most successful campaign on a college campus, ever!
5. You Could Get To Win An Award
UL offer a ‘PVA award’ or Presidential Volunteer Award, for anyone who has offered 20 hours of more, of their time, to volunteering. This is an amazing reward to receive, not just for yourself, but it also goes on your degree. The award is categorised into bronze, silver and gold – depending on how many hours you’ve contributed. I was presented the gold award last year for my efforts. It’s a way for UL to formally recognise the hard-work and dedication their students put in, to help others. And we can promise that Kanye will not make an appearance at the awards ceremony …
6. You Get To Work As Part Of A Team
Almost any volunteering event will require you to be part of a team and this shows potential employers that you’ve gained team building skills.
7. You Get To Come Out Of Your Shell
Volunteering can also bring you out of your shell, if you’re super quiet like me, it can be a way to show your passion! Whether you want to take the reigns and plan a huge event, or simply contribute an article or two to our college paper, you’re still getting involved!