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Student Volunteer Army planning next major campaign

Student Volunteer Army planning next major campaign to help the community

June 15, 2014

University of Canterbury’s Student Volunteer Army has begun planning its next major campaign to help the community.

Next week is National Volunteer Week and Canterbury’s Student Volunteer Army are preparing for their Random Act of Kindness Week in August, president Bridget Williams says.

From silt-shovelling to cleaning up after flooding to encouraging random acts of kindness to inspiring the next generation, the Canterbury Student Army has made an immeasurable amount of positive change because of its dedicated band of 1350 student volunteers. They have been a driving force that transforms ideas into action. The army was born on the streets of Christchurch after the February 22, 2011 earthquake to help with the liquefaction clean-up.

``This coming week is a time to thank our volunteers and remind all students that kindness can take different forms. It’s not about volunteering every weekend but it is a chance for students to recognise that warm feeling of happily providing a selfless act.

``We are also in discussions about introducing our volunteer programme into secondary schools.

This is an opportunity for high school students to lead a community-engaged group of their own. Not only would this assist us with the service requests we receive but it would empower students through leadership and once again, cements a lifestyle of volunteering.

``Volunteer Week is a time to acknowledge the efforts of volunteers and encourage more people to help in the community. Our volunteer army has made incredible progress on and off-campus thanks to our dedicated volunteers who want to make the world a better place.

The aftermath of the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes highlighted how passionate students are to get out there and make a positive change, when given the chance. Thousands of students shovelled the weight of the Empire State Building in silt in the days and weeks after the earthquakes.

``Since then we have been busier than ever on a regular basis with service projects every second weekend, ranging from building shelters to painting murals to clearing out house gutters for the elderly. We have had huge volunteering days called Connect the Community, which brought students and members of the local community together. Last year the event was held in Burwood and this year students helped in the Riccarton area.

``They were fantastic days with people from the community pitching in such as the police, the fire service, students, school children and even law firm Duncan Cotterill. In fact this year’s event was so successful we are considering planning another Connect with the Community event in semester two,’’ Williams says.

The Student Volunteer Army rallied after heavy flooding in Christchurch earlier this year. Students gave up their study time at university to help others. This community-spirit rubbed off on to Heathcote Valley Primary School children who wanted to help their own community.

``We provided equipment and stand-by assistance but seeing those primary school children wanting to volunteer at such a young age opened our eyes to the importance of our organisation. We want to promote selflessness and make it part of the student lifestyle, almost as if volunteering is in one’s DNA and when the school children wanted to help it confirmed that this generous generation is on the rise,’’ Williams says.


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