BGSU students complete nearly 100,000 hours of community service in just over a year

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – In a little more than a year, Bowling Green State University students have completed nearly 100,000 hours of community service locally and regionally, embodying the University’s mission to create public good.

The service projects completed on Jan. 15 as part of the University’s 16th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service are expected to push the total volunteer hours over the 100,000-hour mark, said Kendra Lutes, associate director of the C. Raymond Marvin Center for Student Leadership and Civic Engagement.

“We’re incredibly proud of our BGSU students for embracing their role in creating public good through meaningful community service,” Lutes said. “Our students have always been committed to giving back, and it is especially profound that the service they performed on a day dedicated to honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. will help us achieve 100,000 hours of community service."

Day of service

More than 400 BGSU students, faculty and staff spent their day off on Jan. 15 volunteering. Projects included supporting the Brown Bag Food Project, service projects at the Ronald McDonald House Toledo, Wood Lane Residential Services and Sunshine Communities and sustainability initiatives, among many others.

BGSU sophomore Dillon Teamer, a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, addressed volunteers gathered in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union before they headed to their assignments.

"As a public university for the public good, this University has allowed me to take the necessary steps to give back to every community," Teamer said. "Even though you may all be different, you have the same goal: to make this community great. In the words of Dr. King, 'Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.'

"We start from different communities, but the fact that we can come together and collaborate is one step closer to the mountaintop of us being unified with each other."

Dr. Katie Stygles, BGSU interim chief diversity and belonging officer, commended the day’s supporters for their commitment to creating public good.

“You are our hope for the present and the future. You are the reason we believe in the possibility of Dr. King’s dream and vision,” Stygles said. “Here at BGSU, we urge our community to honor the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. not just today but rather throughout the year.”

The BGSUserves difference

The BGSUserves online platform, launched in Fall 2022, has helped streamline the process of finding and creating volunteer opportunities for BGSU students and community organizations, which Lutes said contributed to increased service hours being completed.

BGSUserves allows nonprofit organizations to post volunteer needs, which students can then easily scroll through, filtering by date, location, organization and time of day to find an opportunity that fits into their schedule.

Students can also create their own volunteer events for organizations they’re involved in, including Thompson Family Scholars, Fraternity and Sorority Life, athletics and more.

Since launching, BGSUserves has grown to include nearly 5,000 student users and 200 nonprofit organizations. Lutes said the goal is for 80% of BGSU students to log at least one hour of service through the platform per year.

As the services initiative chair for the Thompson Working Families Scholarship Leadership Team, BGSU sophomore Jordan Garner is an avid BGSUserves user.

He largely uses the platform to create volunteer events for the University’s 1,000 Thompson Scholars. During the Fall 2023 semester, he organized events to make holiday cards for nursing homes, blankets for Family House of Toledo and dog toys for an animal shelter.

Through the platform, Garner collects reflections from students to help gauge the impact of various events. 

“There’s a distinct difference between logging required community service hours and doing meaningful community service,” Garner said. “We want students to reflect on who they’re helping, what they’re doing for the community and anything new they learned from the experience. We think that’s a big part of people returning to volunteer time and again.”

For Lori Richard, finding volunteers has been much easier since Sunshine Communities, Inc., which supports people with developmental disabilities, began using BGSUserves in 2022.

“Since we began using this platform, our volunteer hours have tripled,” said Richard, Sunshine’s director of community engagement. “It has been a great organizational tool for the students and our organization. Nonprofit organizations rely heavily on the work of volunteers, and we’re thankful BGSUserves has helped connect us to so many wonderful BGSU students.”

Updated: 01/23/2024 04:40PM