Community Service Remains a Focus at W&J

WASHINGTON, PA (Dec. 21, 2012)—The semester came to a close with Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) donating decorated Christmas trees and gifts to the City Mission, but that was just the beginning.

From September through December, W&J students put in more than 6,500 hours of volunteer time in the region.

W&J students help to support a number of local non-profits, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, the President’s Prep Tutor and Mentoring Program, the Lemoyne Center and Salvation Army, to name just a few. Gathering gifts for Toys for Tots and partnering with Community Action Southwest on its annual Christmas event were among the holiday-specific community service initiatives as the year came to a close.

Student athletes supported yet another holiday project, buying gifts for and spending time with local families in need through Family Promise, which helps homeless and low-income families become self-sustainable. Students also worked with Catholic Charities to sponsor an Angel Tree, purchasing gifts for local families.

According to Justin Dandoy, director of volunteer programs at W&J, the College now has 22 Americorps community fellows. The fellows are students who make a commitment to complete at least 300 tutor- and educational-based community service hours during the school year. This is the largest group of Americorps community fellows the College has ever had.

“I am continually amazed by our students. They really want to do big things,” Dandoy said. “I am overwhelmed by their innovation and drive. Our students really want to help and they are making an impact.”

This coming semester, W&J’s G.I.V.E. (Get Involved in Volunteer Experiences) organization will organize an alternate Spring Break trip where students will work with Habitat for Humanity to build houses for low-income families.

The wide variety of annual activities is being noticed by members of the larger community, says Dandoy.  “The organizations we are working with always seemed surprised that students would go out of their way to participate in these events,” he said. “But we are partners in the community and that will continue. Our students are incredible and always willing to help.”