TOUCHING THE lives of the dispossessed, golden agers, victims of HIV/AIDS, children in schools and some non-governmental organisations in the society through its social outreach programme, the Excelsior Community College (ECC) has, this year, bolstered its fund-raising drive for charity.
On Saturday, the evening students of the community college staged their annual 'lap for charity' to support a plethora of institutions and organisations such as basic schools in the community, Eve for Life, Children First, the Golden Age Home in Vineyard Town, among others.
The social outreach exercise is one of the prerequisites for completing a course of study at the institution, with evening students required to complete 30 hours of voluntary support in a non-profit organisation.
For Dorrette Gordon, a business management student, this move to assist charitable groups is not only an academic requirement; it gives her an opportunity to do something that is close to her heart.
"Sometimes when you ask persons to volunteer, they will ask, how is it going to benefit me? It is not about you, it's how you can help the wider community. I would encourage anybody to volunteer because you have a lot of needy people out there who need us and could benefit from our service," she said in a Gleaner interview.
"It's not all about money, service is very important, and even after I finish this course, I will continue to serve and give back to the community," she said.
Doreen Latty, who is pursuing an associate degree in business administration, is of the view that voluntarism is waning in Jamaica.
"Not many people give back anymore. It's all about me, me," she said, noting that many persons are not inclined to volunteer their service or give to charity if the camera lights are not flashing and publicity is not guaranteed.
"When you give back and nobody knows, you don't need the world to know that you are giving back; it's a good feeling," she opined.
Pursuing an associate degree in hospitality and entertainment, Shire Bailey, a first-year evening student, pointed out that voluntarism is not only about donating money to needy persons.
"We are trying to emphasise to persons that as college students, the simple things you can do to help in a community will go a far way. We are talking about doing remedial classes for persons, assisting the elderly, giving time as volunteers in food shelters and providing a meal for the homeless man on the road," she said.
Dr Nadine Scott, principal of ECC, said the institution, like all other community colleges, has the mandate to do some social outreach with students.
"The students are very excited about the outreach programmes," Scott observed, noting that last year the college made a little more than half a million dollars in its social outreach drive.
Marlene Campbell, senior lecturer who coordinates the social outreach programme, said the main objective of getting the students to volunteer their services in non-profit organisations is to inculcate in them a sense of social responsibility.
Full Caption: Marlene Campbell (left), senior lecturer and social outreach coordinator at Excelsior Community College, joins students of the evening division of the college as they prepare to start their 'lap for charity' at the institution's main campus on 137 Mountain View Avenue in Kingston. The 'lap for charity' is the college's fund-raiser to assist basic schools, golden age homes and selected non-governmental organisations. The event was staged on Saturday. - Contributed