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By Karen Herland
As the holidays approach, some people are looking for a way to give back.
For the last year, the Association of Alms has been operating on campus to match committed students with local organizations needing their time and energy. President Eileen Wong says, “given our school's reputation for grass-roots community work, it is important to increase our involvement at the community level.”
She points to the award-winning Concordia Volunteer Abroad Program. She said the group was also inspired by online projects like those organized through the United Nations that allow individuals to coordinate donations, or donate their own skills via the internet. Finally, she pointed to the organizational power of Facebook as proof that volunteerism is alive and constantly evolving.
In addition to collecting donations and providing volunteers, the association has begun to organize volunteer weekends. “We believe there is something very powerful about a group of volunteers who already share common ground — all are students of the same school and also very valuable to local charities who often find themselves at a shortage for volunteers.”
Over two weekends in October, 25 students went out to the Old Brewery Mission to participate in food and coffee service. Over the course of a day, four or five rotations of up to 80 people came through for food and coffee. Volunteers stuck around for clean up and shared a meal with Mission staff. Earlier, they had toured the facilities and learned more about the Mission and those it supports.
In the future, the group would like to improve its volunteer bureau and set up a specialized program for newly arrived international students. “Volunteering in the community plays a big role in the integration of newly arrived immigrants into Canadian society,” said Wong.
The association would also like to train volunteers to act as support in emergency situations and eventually, to be able to do out-of-town volunteer weekends wherever they might be needed. Wong also hopes to one day integrate interested faculty into the program.
In the meantime, if you would like to get involved, donate clothing or find out more, get in touch with the group through their Facebook group Association of Alms or email Wong at: firstname.lastname@example.org.