Kicking back and enjoying the luxuries of youth post-high school is pretty enticing. Letting studying take backseat to Guitar Hero championships and grocery-cart bowling may be peachy for a while. But wait for that feeling to set in … and it will. You need to do something more meaningful than sitting around eating Pop-Tarts procrastinating about that term paper. Bingo: How about helping out your fellow humans? Utah’s campuses of higher education are a great place to get your start in humanitarian service, which will leave you feeling more satisfied than trying to charm unsuspecting freshman with your acoustic guitar.
University of Utah Bennion Community Service Center
• Saturday Service Get active once a month with this service program. Previous projects have included visits to the Ching Family Farm helping animals saved from slaughterhouses. Other projects include bake sales benefiting the Utah Aids Foundation and the Utah Food Bank. Varying each Saturday, the events are sure to tackle issues you care about.
• Alternative Breaks Instead of getting sunburned in Cabo for no real purpose besides getting laid, why not head out on spring or fall break with meaning that lasts longer than you can stomach eight shots of tequila? Alternative Breaks invite students to travel to a city and handle real issues of poverty, immigration, and disaster relief. Previous breaks have included trips to San Francisco, San Diego and Seattle. One 2008 fall break trip will take place in Iowa to provide disaster relief.
Brigham Young University Center for Service and Learning
• Special Olympics If Beijing was just too far away, but you have that Olympic spirit burning, you are in luck. Each year the Utah Special Olympics is held in Provo at the BYU track. The event is entirely run by volunteers and supporters. Either by coordinating events or cheering on athletes, students are always needed to make the event successful and fun for participants.
• Service dates In standard BYU fashion, the name says it all. Grab a date and head out for a night working on a wholesome service project. Create coloring books, hats and kits for kids in need while proving you are marriage material to your sweet-spirited date. Service dates come complete with free food for all you big spenders.
Utah Valley University Center for Service and Learning
• Hunger Banquet This oxymoronic event has become popular nationwide to spread poverty awareness. Tickets are purchased and participants are served dinner in proportion to world-poverty ratios. Assigned a persona, some are wealthy business tycoons while others are citizens of Third World countries. The highly attended event includes discussions on poverty and taking action to solve it. Take your chances at getting a steak dinner or beans and rice. The proceeds go to a good cause.
• Juvenile Justice You are a strapping young college student now, so why not prove there is a light at the end of the adolescent tunnel? This flexible mentoring and teaching program on Wednesday nights gives college students a chance to make an impact on troubled teens. Students play games with teens and share the importance of journaling and other creative outlets.
Weber State University Community Involvement Center
• Mount Ogden Junior High Ambitious junior high students are taking a more rigorous curriculum including additional math, science and English classes to help prepare them for life after high school. Show off your mad studying skills to these kids who need tutoring help to keep them ahead of the curve. Who knows, it may help you sharpen your biology skills before you take that micro class spring semester.
• Youth Impact This full service mentoring program has more than 150 WSU students involved in tutoring and working with at-risk teens in the Ogden area. Volunteers pick up the students from 25 schools and take them to the Youth Impact headquarters in downtown Ogden for an afternoon of stained-glass art projects or soccer and softball. Seasonal projects might include gardening. Students play a role in showing that college is a possibility and serve as role models that kids can talk to.