Pacers Make Impact in Community
Aiken, SC (06/14/2019) — The University of South Carolina Aiken's student community service organization spent the spring semester doing outreach projects throughout the community.
"Everything Impact does is geared toward connecting students to the community and helping make a difference in any way we can," said Lindsey Calhoun, a leader in the student organization.
"Impact works with nonprofits in the community to find out what is happening and when they need student volunteers."
The members in Impact then share the opportunities with the student body, connecting needs with volunteers. While the students are making an impact throughout the academic year, the university's annual volunteer fair helps streamline their efforts.
"Various nonprofits came and set up tables and students walked around to learn more about the opportunities for volunteering," Calhoun said.
"We know the experiences students will have interacting and serving in our Aiken community will have benefits for not only people in need but also their own personal and professional growth."
Impact not only connects students with the community by spreading the word about events and organizations but also organizes volunteer events to get students involved.
In January, Impact went to the Salvation Army's Boys and Girls Club to spend time with the children there.
"We helped facilitate some fun activities, helped students with their homework, and tried to make connections with the children who were there," Calhoun said.
A month later, Impact hosted a supply drive for games and sports equipment which the members donated to the Boys and Girls Club.
"Saying the kids were excited to see all of those toys would be an understatement," said Calhoun, an education major who graduated in May.
In February, Impact went to the ACTS Resale store downtown one Saturday and worked closely with one of the regular volunteers there to organize and sort through the different items sold there. For Valentine's Day, Impact encouraged students to make Valentine cards for the women at the Cumbee Center.
"We focused on creating cards with very positive, affirming, and uplifting messages," Calhoun said.
Impact kicked off March by getting a group of students together to donate blood at the Shepeard's Blood Center.
"Some of the students who showed up had never even given blood before but were courageous and determined to make a difference," Calhoun said.
For midterm exams, Impact decided to do something special for the USC Aiken student body. They teamed up with the Aiken Alliance of Therapy Dogs who brought several canines to campus to help students de-stress before their big tests.
"The lovely Aiken Therapy Dogs and their owners came by for a few hours in the quad and students, no matter how stressed, came by to pet the dogs with big smiles on their faces and child-like joy," said Calhoun.
Over spring break, Impact's leadership class headed to Orlando for an alternative spring break experience.
"This leadership class had the privilege of volunteering at Give Kids the World. Give Kids the World is a volunteer-based resort that allows children who are critically ill and their families to get away, have fun, and be able to forget about the real world; even if it's just for a brief moment," said Calhoun.
April proved to be Impact's busiest month with two of the group's biggest events: Dance for a Wish and Love Shouldn't Hurt. Dance for a Wish helped raise money for a professor's effort to assist the Make-a-Wish Foundation. The other event, Love Shouldn't Hurt, helped raise awareness about domestic violence and also shed light on what the Cumbee Center does for the Aiken community. For that event, Impact partnered with several other student organizations, collaborating all across campus.
Before the semester wrapped up, Impact teamed up with United Way's Project Vision to build a wheelchair ramp for a disabled community member.
"Impact is looking forward to the events to come and super proud of our student volunteers for making all of these events possible and successful," Calhoun said.
"We can't wait to continue serving our Aiken community next semester with even more new and exciting volunteer opportunities for our students."