As the holiday season approaches and the quarter comes to an end, students may want to give back to the community in the form of volunteering.

Clubs on campus, such as the Red Cross club, Student Homeless Outreach Team and others provide opportunities for students to serve.

Groups such as Learning Environment Action Discovey (LEAD) at Western, may not provide service opportunities over break, but allow students to participate in projects during the quarter. LEAD allows students to do volunteer maintenance at the Outback Farm on campus as well as a number of other community environmental restoration and clean-up projects.

Many students also participate in curriculum that has volunteer work built into it. Service-learning classes,  such as the Campus Sustainability Planning Studio, allow students to serve the Western community and get credit for it. The course allows student teams to research and propose sustainable solutions in areas such as energy consumption, transportation and waste reduction.

Some students choose to serve on an individual basis by joining clubs that serve the community. Western Student Homeless Outreach Team hosts the “Be Our Guest” event, in which students are asked to donate the leftover meals from their meal plans to hungry members of the community at the end of the quarter. Participants are also encouraged to sit down and join their guests during the meal, club member Alexandra Dammarell said.

“We are hoping to see a large turnout of students to donate meals and also anyone who wants to volunteer at the event ,” Dammarell said.

Even if students do not have a meal plan, Dammarell said they are encouraged to attend the event. This quarter, it will be held on Friday, Dec. 2.

For those interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities, the Center for Service-Learning in Wilson Library 481 hosts a member of the Whatcom Volunteer Center each Thursday from noon to 4 p.m. to answer questions and help connect students to community volunteer opportunities. The Whatcom Volunteer Center, located on 725 N. State St., is a community organization that aims to give people volunteer opportunities through different non-profits and community projects.

This year, the Center for Service-Learning is organizing  monthly, one-time volunteer events that students can sign up for in the center, said Alex Allyne, Service-Learning coordinator. These opportunities are good for students who would like to volunteer, but do not have the time in their schedules to commit to volunteering on a regular basis, she said.  Students who wish to volunteer more regularly may meet with Dan Hammill, Whatcom Volunteer Center program coordinator. He is in the center every Thursday. 

The Center for Service-Learning creates opportunities that help faculty integrate hands-on learning into classroom curriculum, Allyne said. If students are interested in taking a class that has a service-learning component, they can search for service-learning classes on the Western website using Classfinder, she said. Winter 2012 is the first quarter this search term is available on the scheduling tool, she said.  Students who wish to participate in service-learning classes in the future should continue to check Classfinder. She said she thinks more faculty will begin to use the tool for their service-learning classes.