Student volunteers aplenty

The level of interest in the University of Otago's new volunteer centre is more evidence of a resurgence in volunteering among younger people.

Otago University Volunteer Centre co-ordinator Sze-En Lau said about 300 people had signed up to be apart of UniCrew - which links students with volunteer groups - since it launched at the start of O-Week.

University of Otago Volunteer Centre co-ordinator Sze-En Lau is ''stoked'' at the level of interest in volunteering among students. Photo by Craig Baxter.
University of Otago Volunteer Centre co-ordinator Sze-En Lau is ''stoked'' at the level of interest in volunteering among students. Photo by Craig Baxter.
''I'm stoked. It's just one week in and I am just so buoyed by the response we have had from students,'' Ms Lau said.

The level of interest came amid a resurgence in student volunteering, which was given a boost by the Student Volunteer Army helping out following the Christchurch earthquakes.

''I think the group up in Christchurch set such a great example of what young people can achieve and that it can be student-led,'' she said.

Part of the volunteer centre's vision was to make volunteering ''part of mainstream university culture''Students who became a part of UniCrew could volunteer in a range of ways.

''I'm really interested in finding ... more and more ways for students to engage in volunteering.''

That would include traditional volunteer jobs, such as collecting money at street corners and helping at SPCA, and also newer types of volunteering''There is a rise in e-volunteering where you just do it at home in your pyjamas.''

This could mean writing an online newsletter from the comfort of your flat.

She encouraged anyone thinking about it to get involved and volunteer.

''It gives you a new perspective on yourself, on your community and it does help you build those skills ... and they are really going to be valuable for you, not only while you are at university, but also afterwards.''

It also made you feel good.

''It seems really corny, but you do get the warm and fuzzies. It's unavoidable, they will get you.''

Over the next couple of weeks Ms Lau would be putting out the invitation to community organisations, so they could advertise vacancies through the UniCrew database.