Students queue up for worthy cause

University of Otago volunteer centre co-ordinator Sze-En Lau (left) and OUSA project co-ordinator Kitty Brown at a volunteer fair at the university link yesterday. Photo by Linda Robertson A volunteer fair at the University of Otago yesterday was a ''raging success'' and showed increasing interest in volunteering among Dunedin students, organisers say.

University Volunteering Centre co-ordinator Sze-En Lau said the 24 organisations at the fair signed up about 800 volunteers.

This made the inaugural fair a raging success and it would become an annual event, she said.

The reaction from organisations involved had been nothing but positive, and the number of students who signed up or expressed an interest ''reflects the growing interest'' among students in the city in volunteering.

Students were increasingly keen to be a part of the community, and volunteering - especially for those who came to the university from outside the city - enabled them to do that, she said.

Otago University Students' Association project co-ordinator Kitty Brown said the work done by the Student Volunteer Army following the Christchurch earthquakes was a major reason behind the growing popularity of volunteering.

Whereas students in the past may have tried to make a difference by protesting, now they might get involved by setting up a volunteer organisation, she said.

Growing competition in the workplace also meant students were turning to volunteering as way of gaining an edge when it came to getting a job after graduating.

Department of Conservation volunteer co-ordinator Lucy Hardy said the students' response was brilliant and Doc would be back next year.

More than 100 students expressed an interest in volunteering for Doc and she was looking forward to seeing fresh faces helping with tasks such as hut maintenance and ranger work.

The organisations that attended ranged from student-led groups such as Cancer Core and Choose Kids to organisations like Orokonui Ecosanctuary and IHC.

The fair was jointly run by the volunteering centre and OUSA.

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