Try something different with community service

As the school year is quickly coming to an end and students are trying to secure jobs for the summer, I would like to offer a small piece of advice.

Most of us take our college experiences for granted. We come here for four years, do our time and are on our way again. Some people complain that the College is a suitcase school and as soon as Friday hits, everyone bolts back to their respective corners of New Jersey.

But there are the few who would rather spend their weekend and free time serving food at the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, tutoring students at El Centro, caring for children at Mercer Childcare Center or lending a helping hand and a hammer to Habitat for Humanity.

Those few amazing people will leave this College with an experience no frat party, beer pong tournament or night spent playing video games can even come close to matching. For four years, their lives meant helping others and they will forever remember the times they spent helping the people of Trenton and Mercer County, no beer gut required.

My own community service in Trenton has made my college experience one that I will remember forever. I have spent three years of my college career dedicated to service in Mercer County. The most rewarding of my experiences came just over a year ago.

I was helping political science professor Bill Ball with a public issues summit about youth and family issues in Mercer County. I spoke with a Trenton native afterward and she praised our efforts and said it really changed the way she thought about youth, education and gang violence. It was the first time I really thought that community service could have a profound impact.

Everyone has a passion for something, so harness it and use your talents for the greater good. Whether you have a knack for art and can volunteer to paint murals in Trenton, or you want to serve food at the soup kitchen a few days a week, there is something for everyone. There are plenty of opportunities regardless of your availability or interest level.

Make the most of your college experience and join one of the excellent campus organizations committed to social justice and community service; you’re cheating yourself if you don’t.

Contact the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement or the Center for Civic Leadership. If you would rather speak to a student organization, contact Habitat for Humanity, Alpha Phi Omega, Water Watch or Circle K. Students from these organizations have formed a community service coalition and are working together to allow students to get more involved.