There is never a lack of opportunity for people to volunteer in Southern Oregon, and this summer presents the perfect chance for students in Ashland and the Rogue Valley to take part in their community, while also challenging themselves.
“I think volunteering can be really helpful to learn about yourself, your interests, and the things you love doing,” said Brittany Depew, environmental and community engagement coordinator at Southern Oregon University.
As students move out of the dorms and Ashland is swamped with tourism, there are plenty of chances to volunteer. Raider Reclamation was one example, where students moving out of the residence halls donated furniture, clothing, and other items left behind to Goodwill.
Depew also said the annual “Keep Mt. Ashland Clean and Green Day” will be held on Jul. 28 this year, where volunteers receive a free lunch and shuttle ride to Mt. Ashland as they work to keep Ashland’s beautiful landmark garbage-free.
Various long-term organizations that are devoted to providing food for those in need are always looking for help said Sophia Mantheakis, hunger and homelessness alleviation coordinator,
Mantheakis said the ACCESS Food Rescue Program has already donated $7,000 dollars worth of food since last February, and the Ashland Emergency Food Bank an impressive 25,000 pounds of food every other month.
Positions are available for donating and transporting food to people who would otherwise go hungry.
“I think people get disconnected from helping others,” said Mantheakis. “Helping is not a hinderance.”
The Civic Engagement Program at SOU has organized a number of campus cleanup programs, and is always willing to assist with resume building and volunteer placement. Meagan Ziemer, student civic engagement coordinator, said that SOU is preparing for next year by organizing steady volunteer opportunities this summer.
“It’s nice to have something to focus on that isn’t schoolwork,” said Mantheakis. “I love what I do. We’re here because we’re passionate about it.”
Judi Hanstein, volunteer coordinator of the Southern Oregon Humane Society in Medford, holds similar views about her long-term community service record, a quarter of which she had never been paid for.
“I believe volunteering is good for you as a humane being,” she said. “It’s good for your heart.”
On Jun. 23 and 24 a yard sale will be held at the Southern Oregon Humane Society, located at 2910 Table Rock Road, Medford. Community members are encouraged to bring everything except for clothing. All of the proceeds will benefit grateful animals.
“You don’t have to touch an animal to volunteer to help them,” said Hanstein. “It just makes you a better person interacting with people and animals, they’re orphans twice.”
Besides planning a car wash, the Southern Oregon Humane Society has many positions for individuals looking to give back to the community. Volunteers can walk or socialize with dogs, play with cats, keep up with laundry, become foster parents, or greet visitors and help them find a lifelong companion.
“If there’s one thing you can do for you, volunteer,” said Hanstein. “Giving time today is making their lives better tomorrow.”