UBC-Okanagan students took a day out of their reading week to offer help to nonprofit organizations in the community.

Reading week can be a break from the heavy weight of deadlines for some, and a moment to catch up on their missed deadlines for others – but for approximately 70 UBC-Okanagan students, reading break was spent giving back to the Kelowna community.

The Student Experience Office and Community Services Learning Program, paired with the United Way, afforded students the chance to assist several community partners and charities with various projects through the Pushor Mitchell United Way “Days of Caring” program.

The program began over a decade ago and is one of many programs put on by the Student Experience Office throughout the year that allows students to volunteer their time to nonprofit organizations.

This year, students were able to help children climb the rock wall at the YMCA, sort clothes at the MCC thrift store in Rutland, and build cat condominiums at the SPCA, among other activities.

The 70 students offered their efforts to numerous nonprofit organizations: the Boys’ and Girl’s Clubs, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Living Positive Resource Centre, Pathways Abilities Society, CMHA Kelowna, Gospel Mission, MCC Thrift Store, and the YMCA.

Sydney Neumeier, a UBC-O student involved with the “Days of Caring” program, remarked on the simplicity of the volunteering process, and on the profound outcome her actions had on the community.

"It made me realize how much people do value your time and how easy it is to make someone’s day."

“By painting some of the washrooms in the Boys’ and Girls’ club downtown, it made me realize how much people do value your time and how easy it is to make someone’s day,” said Neumeier, “it’s always a plus to meet new people and gain new connections, especially if you have some free time you could use to be productive in your community!”

Phil Bond, the Senior Manager for the Student Experience Office, noted that the “Days of Caring” program was only one of the many projects that they coordinated.

“As part of the Community Service Learning Program we do curricular [projects],” said Bond, “courses have a CSL component in which students – as part of a class – go out and do projects that are tied into their classwork.”

As part of their co-curricular stream of projects, Bond stated that they have a number of different projects happening and “have students going out every weekend into the community doing projects.”

Bond also mentioned that many of the community partners that the students have the opportunity to volunteer at often will approach the students for summer employment.

Bond invited all students to join the “Days of Caring” program, or any other that they offer: “If you're not able to get away skiing up on the hill or get home for that week and you're stuck here on campus; [or if] you want to make some friends, hang out and do cool projects in the community, come sign up!"

For more information on volunteering with the Student Experience Office, visit: http://students.ok.ubc.ca/cslprogram/welcome.html