NORTH GEORGIA — The University of North Georgia already planned to expand its Saturday of Service, traditionally held the first week of the fall semester on the Dahlonega Campus, to all five campuses this August. Now with the COVID-19 pandemic limiting large gatherings, the university will employ a “pay it forward” strategy that leads to service throughout the northeast Georgia region, culminating on Saturday.
The virtual event encourages UNG students, faculty, staff, and alumni to engage in community service and random acts of kindness from Aug. 17-22 and post their efforts on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #NighthawksTogether.
“We want to create more opportunities for UNG faculty, staff, students, and alumni to serve,” said Bobbi Larson, UNG’s director of economic development and community engagement.
One example of virtual volunteerism is to read to kids via a virtual platform. Community organizations can submit virtual volunteer opportunities to be considered for the event through the Nighthawk Community Connector, an online portal that provides opportunities for UNG faculty, staff and students to engage in meaningful ways with their communities. UNG will share the list on its Service-Learning website.
The Saturday of Service encourages greater collaboration among students, faculty and staff, which is a goal of UNG’s Civic Action Plan. In January, UNG was one of 119 U.S. colleges and universities to receive the 2020 Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, an elective designation that indicates institutional commitment to community engagement. Including this year’s designees, only 359 schools nationwide carry the voluntary classification. Only six public universities in Georgia have earned the designation.
Some examples of possible acts of service include:
Leave post-it notes with kind statements on them in a public place.
Buy someone a cup of coffee.
Bring an extra umbrella with you when it rains and give it to someone without one.
Fill a Little Library with gently used books.
Purchase the next person in line’s toll or food.
Help someone using a specialized skill.
Donate to a local nonprofit.
Deliver a small token of appreciation to a neighbor.
Sarah Young, assistant director of academic engagement and assistant professor of political science, appreciates how the virtual nature of this year’s Saturday of Service makes it more accessible.
“It allows more people to be involved,” Young said. “They don’t have to be somewhere at a specific time.”
Mallory Rodriguez, director of student leadership at UNG, is eager to see the connections students, faculty, staff and alumni make with their communities.
“This year’s innovative approach sets the stage for more collaborative and community-building opportunities in the future,” Rodriguez said. “And I’m eager to see what kind of relationships our faculty, staff, students, and alumni can make in the future given this new model.”
This article originally appeared on the Cumming Patch