U of G Marks National Volunteer Week

April 20, 2009 - Campus Bulletin

National Volunteer Week, Canada's biggest celebration and recognition campaign of volunteers, runs from April 19 to 25. U of G is marking the occasion by participating in the "Time to Give Challenge."

The initiative, developed by the Volunteer Centre of Guelph/Wellington, encourages local businesses and agencies to promote volunteerism among their employees. More information

U of G has been a longtime promoter of the notion, says Martha Harley, assistant vice- president (human resources). "We support and encourage all employees to volunteer in the community," she says. "The volunteer work of the students, faculty and staff at U of G helps change lives and improve life in our community."

Over the years, U of G has done a lot to motivate and encourage its staff and students to get involved in their community and in larger volunteer initiatives. Guelph was the first university in English-speaking Canada to participate in Leave for Change, which promotes short-term volunteer opportunities for people to help out with meaningful projects in international settings. It's carried out through Uniterra and was created by World University Service of Canada and the Centre for International Studies and Co-operation. U of G employees have travelled to places such as Vietnam, Botswana, Malawi and Guatemala thorough the program.

Another example is the United Way campaign, where the University traditionally raises the largest single contribution from a Guelph organization through fundraising and other volunteer activities. Last year, the University raised more than $484,000, exceeding its campaign goal once again.

On the student side, hundreds of students take part every fall in Project Serve, where they head into the community and volunteer at local agencies. Students also volunteer their time and donate money throughout the year for initiatives such as Meal Exchange and Trick-or-Eat, which support local organizations including food banks, shelters and drop-in centres.

And every year, instead of spending Reading Week relaxing at home, groups of students travel throughout Canada and the United States to take part in volunteer initiatives such as helping with environmental projects, spreading HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, doing hurricane relief and learning about Inuit culture and traditions.

U of G staff and students are recognized for their volunteer efforts through the annual Dr. William Winegard Exemplary Volunteer Involvement Awards. Named after former U of G president Bill Winegard, the awards recognize members of the University community who have shown commitment to volunteering and given outstanding service to organizations in the Guelph area.

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