RSU Students, Staff Give Back to Community

Elementary kids surrounding two college girls reading a book.

Softball players read to Roosa Elementary School students.

A recent survey by Rogers State University shows that roughly a third of all its students and staff give back to the community through volunteer work in its service areas.

During the 2012-13 academic years, more than 1,000 RSU students were involved in community service, volunteering or civic engagement activities, with an additional 350 students taking part in service-learning experiences.

“The university places a strong emphasis on community engagement, and these numbers show that our students are actively contributing to the improvement of our community,” said RSU President Dr. Larry Rice. “These numbers become all the more impressive when you realize that the majority of our students work at their jobs for 20-30 hours a week, take classes at RSU and still find time to give back to their community.”

Students painting a wall.

Students volunteer during MKL Week of Service.

According to the recent survey, RSU students volunteer an average of 3.5 hours a week, which equates to more than 150,000 volunteer hours last year. Those hours were split up among 85 different community partners.

This volunteer spirit is readily seen in service week of activities held this week in conjunction with the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday where students, faculty and staff participated in community activities for area agencies.

In the Department of Business, volunteering has become part of the curriculum for students participating in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program where specially trained students help low income neighbors prepare their federal and state tax returns.

“The VITA program offers a valuable, professional service to the community and provides our students a chance to earn the professional hours required to sit for the CPA exam,” said RSU business faculty member P.J. Gorden, who is administering the program. So far this year, VITA volunteers have prepared more than 240 returns and are booked through early April.

Students also volunteer as mentors with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program where dozens of RSU students spend at least an hour a week with their little brother or little sister as part of the organization’s school-based program.

More than 200 RSU student-athletes also participate in programs, including having teams volunteer their time with Special Olympics, Make-a-Wish and the Child Advocacy Center. The athletic department also donates supplies and assembles dozens of gift boxes for Operation Christmas Child.

Staff and faculty at RSU also take time out of their busy schedules. Last year, 83 employees volunteered their time in the community.