"Volunteering releases endorphins, feel-good hormones. They are the same kind you release when you are eating chocolate or having sex," said Brenda Hewitt as she talked with University of Alaska Southeast students early on a Saturday morning. "It makes you feel happy and feel good."
Hewitt, chapter President of the United Way of Southeast Alaska, was very excited to have so many UAS students present and ready to help out. "This is the most volunteers we've had sign up from UAS in a while," she said of the group who gathered at the UAS Housing Lodge Oct. 9.
More than 28 students donated their time to participate in the United Way Day of Caring, which began Oct. 5. The UAS Day of Caring was held especially on a Saturday so that UAS students could participate and give back to their community. Students volunteered at many organizations around Juneau, including Puddle Jumpers Daycare, Southeast Alaska Food Bank, The Salvation Army, The Glory Hole and SAGA.
"I think it turned out fabulous," Keni Campbell, UAS Alumni Relations Manager, said of the event. Campbell was also impressed with the number of students who chose to volunteer. "This was the largest number of Day of Caring volunteers that I have had since my time here at the University, for the past five years," Campbell said.
Paul Dorman, the Residence Life Coordinator for UAS Housing, volunteered with nine others from UAS students at SAGA. Dorman has a background in working with student-based service groups and believes that by volunteering their time, students take away an important message.
"Any time you get people to step outside their normal routine and give for a day, nobody can walk away with a bad feeling," Dorman explained. "After volunteering and working with people you have this strange commitment or empowerment to what you've just accomplished."
And even though the group working at SAGA didn't work directly providing services to people in need, Dorman still believes that students where a big help.
"The people at SAGA are already volunteers. By going out there and showing them we were interested in what they were involved in probably made a difference to them," said Dorman.
An avid volunteer in the community already, UAS student Nicole Jensen enjoys volunteering where she is needed most.
"I like helping others and don't always know where (in a city or town) that help is needed so the Day of Caring was a great way to help out within a place that had a need," Jensen explained.
Those who volunteered at different locations throughout Juneau ended their Day of Caring with a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of amazement at how a simple act of kindness can make a big difference.
"[I left with] a sense of satisfaction from being able to help others, and an appreciation for the generosity of the Juneau community," said Adam Wilkinson, a member of the Student Alumni Board of Directors. "I was collecting non-perishable food items for the Southeast Alaska Food Bank at Safeway and was amazed to watch people stop to give us four of the five bags they had in their cart." Wilkinson said. "One woman only stopped in to pick up a prescription, but instead went shopping just to make a donation!"
Those interested in volunteering don't have to wait for a specific day to volunteer. Many local organizations appreciate a good volunteer at any time. Check out the local Food Bank, the Glory Hole, and the Gastineau Humane Society to see what kind of volunteer options they offer. Plus there are always events put on by different groups that you can join in on. Check out the bulletin boards located around campus for events and times.