The community of Lincoln is greatly benefiting from the generosity of University of Nebraska–Lincoln students.
Developed and grown with and for students, Engage Lincoln, a volunteer program, has kicked off its first year through the Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement Office.
Engage Lincoln started in September 2022 and works with non-profit organizations in the area. It is open to all students at Nebraska. The program is led by Andrew Brown, assistant director of community engagement.
“It’s a really great way to see how our campus is lifting people up in our community, and helping people if they ask us. It’s just an awesome program,” Brown said.
Eight students volunteered at the Salvation Army on Feb. 13, the first event of the spring 2023 semester. Four of those students had participated in a youth program with the Salvation Army, so they were already connected with what that non-profit does. They restocked the food pantry, organized the kitchen, cleaned and made tie blankets.
In total, during February’s service projects, 56 students volunteered and completed 112 volunteer hours at five nonprofit organizations.
Audra Clark, a junior civil engineering student at Nebraska U, volunteered at the Salvation Army to fulfill her service requirement for the Women’s Soccer Team.
“It feels really good to give back to the community,” Clark said.
The program occurs every month during the academic school year. During the third week of that month, SLICE partners with five non-profits that are connected to a part of the community in need. Each month is centered around a different need. The month of February is centered around homelessness. March is education, and April is the environment.
“I think it benefits our students by helping them become aware of our community needs,” Brown said. “We make sure our students receive information about homelessness rates or literacy rates. They are learning about what’s going on in our community, and are also learning how they can get involved.”
Engage Lincoln was an idea that developed from students who were volunteering through the Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement Office, but only one day a month. They reported back to the office and asked to see more of these types of volunteer trips.
The program will continue to grow and will have students who serve as site leaders, select the nonprofits, and help with leading some deeper work during the events.
Next year, the volunteer program will look at recruiting additional partners.
“I think Engage Lincoln will grow in a similar path with having each month being around community needs,” Brown said. “There are a plethora of nonprofits in Lincoln. We will always continue to look for nonprofits that students can volunteer at.”
The next volunteer event is 2-4 p.m. March 21 at Educare of Lincoln. Educare of Lincoln provides children from birth to age 5 with quality early education, support families and arm teachers with effective teaching practices. Students will have the opportunity to sort donations, assist with leading activities for local youth and doing yard work around the facility.