Binghamton University groups and local organizations rallied students Thursday to give a little bit back to the community.
The Center for Civic Engagement looked to get students involved in the community at the fourth annual community showcase, held in the Mandela Room. The CCE invited outside volunteers and student organizations to inform students about volunteer opportunities in youth engagement, community issues forums and helping the community improve its information technology access.
Allison Alden, director of the CCE, said she hoped that the showcase raised awareness about the CCE and helped students establish themselves in the community.
“It’s a great opportunity for freshmen to get informed about what’s going on in the community,” said Amber Decker, a freshman majoring in human development. “I wasn’t aware of how much I can actually do.”
Some of the participating organizations included Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways, Volunteers of America, Habitat for Humanity and Student Alliance for Local Living Economies.
“I’ve seen many student organizations and outside volunteers walking around between tables and making partners with each other in order to increase their alliances,” Alden said. “Many past organizations returned this year, and it shows how effective the showcase is in attracting more students.”
One of the participating associations, Safe Place for Women, crocheted strips of recycled plastic bags to create big spongy blankets for the homeless. The material is insulating, and it takes about 1,000 bags to create one blanket.
“We’ve had a great experience working with Binghamton students. The environmental twist attracts students, and who wouldn’t want to help someone else out?” said Diane Olivet, a member of Safe Place for Women.
Another student-run organization on campus, the Student Alliance for Local Living Economies, focuses on creating a strong economic relationship between Binghamton University students and the local community. Maura Weingarten, a senior majoring in English, is one of the founders of the group and wanted to bridge the gap between campus and Downtown by teaching people about living in the Downtown area.
“People who come here are looking to help out, and I think it’s great,” Weingarten said. “We’ve only been chartered since last semester, and I think we’re making great progress.”
The Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW) and Broome Bounty Food Recovery Program work together to distribute meals to the homeless throughout the county. They encourage students to fundraise: $1 leads to four distributed meals. Michael Leahey, director of the CHOW program, hopes to gain 1,200 students to participate in the 31st Annual CHOW Hunger Walk on Oct. 20.
“The showcase was a huge success, and I hope that when the New Union finishes renovation, we can have even more student traffic at future showcases,” Alden said.
She hopes to collaborate with co-sponsors to hold an even bigger event with more people in the future.