Apr 092006
Authors: Ben Aaker

Approximately 1,100 CSU students gathered in the Lory Student Center on Saturday morning to participate in the ninth annual CSUnity.

The event, put on by the Residence Hall Association, Greek Life, First National Bank and the office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement (SLCE), offered students the opportunity to give back to their community by offering their time and energy to the needs of nearly 150 varying non-profit agencies in Fort Collins.

“CSUnity is a great opportunity for students to make long-term relationships with individuals they typically wouldn’t connect with,” said Jen Johnson, the assistant director of the SLCE office. “It’s a one-day volunteer plunge that isn’t a huge time commitment and can be a lot of fun.”

CSUnity began with volunteers gathering in the LSC at 9 a.m. to check in, receive free t-shirts and have breakfast before heading out with the hope of lending a helping hand in the community.

Students signed up prior to the event and were placed into groups to be sent to various areas of need ranging from nursing homes to animal sanctuaries. Others helped with several city projects including planting trees and cleaning parks.

Some of the groups represented included Honors Student Association, Greek Life, Student Alumni Association and Preview, CSU’s Orientation Leaders.

“Anytime you work with someone who comes from different experiences and a different background than yours, you have the opportunity to grow individually and appreciate the things you may take advantage of on a daily basis,” said Lindsey Solano, junior speech communications major and leader of the Preview group.

Solano and her group of approximately 14 other volunteers spent the day helping out at a Special Olympics early season track meet recording times and distances and offering an encouraging applause as often as possible.

“We don’t get a ton of public support,” said Rose Winkler, a mentor and an athlete in the Special Olympics. “But when we do, the athletes eat the volunteers up like ham.”

Allan Walmsley, a volunteer and coach for the athletes, said the support goes a long way.

“I think the cheering, applause and enthusiasm of the CSU students does a ton to encourage the athletes to do their best,” Walmsley said.

CSUnity lasted four hours and ended as students were treated with free lunch and a slideshow that depicted pictures from several of the days more encouraging moments.

Although Saturday afternoon marked the end of CSUnity for this year, it is sure to return next year.

In the mean time, students interested in volunteering can find long-term and short-term opportunities at the SLCE office in the LSC or on SLCE’s Web site, http://www.slce.colostate.edu/

Ben Aaker can be reached at campus@collegian.com

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