MUN students helping themselves and others through outreach

A group at Memorial University is focusing on community engagement, hoping to make students’ lives better.

John Williams
Kicker

Memorial University students display some clothing they have collected as part of their Coats for Kids campaign.
Students with MUN Student Life show off some donated winter clothes. John Williams/Kicker

This week, MUN students are spreading some warmth through the Coats for Kids campaign.

They are trying to spur community engagement, but they also hope to improve the lives of fellow students.

MUN Student Life is asking anyone who can spare winter clothing to bring it to the University Centre, room UC-3005, before Oct. 5. The volunteers will then give the items  to low-income families free of charge. As well as clothes, the students involved hope people will give their time and meet some new friends.

“This event is as much to connect and engage with the Memorial community as it is to connect and engage with the larger community,” said Shannon Lewis-Simpson, Memorial University’s Community Engaged learning coordinator.

Lewis-Simpson says MUN Student Life has been helping with Coats for Kids, an offshoot of VOCM Cares, for the past two years. She wants more students to get involved for their own sakes, as well as the community’s.

“There’s people who go to class, talk to no-one, eat their lunch in isolation, go to the library and don’t speak to anyone, and then go home at the end of the day without having interacted with a single human person.”

More than just coats

Getting the clothes is just the first step. On Oct. 9, Branch 1 of  the Royal Canadian Legion at 57 Blackmarsh Road will act like a free store for those in need. After sorting the items, volunteers will run the store on Oct. 9 and 16  from noon to 8 p.m. and on Oct. 13 and 20  from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Also, the clothes will be available from a mobile store provided by Metrobus. Finally, the RCMP will fly unclaimed items to Labrador.

“No coat is going to go to waste this year,” Lewis-Simpson said.

The Coats for Kids campaign is only one of the items on the agenda in this fall’s Make Midterm Matter event. Students are being asked to volunteer at one of a number of places. These include the Elaine Dobbin Centre for Autism, the Caribou Pavilion, the Association for New Canadians, among many others.

Make Midterm Matter happens every semester and involves between 100 and 150 students. Although everyone is welcome, Lewis-Simpson says there is a special focus on those who have experience or interest in working with vulnerable communities. Future social workers, pharmacists, medical professionals and sociologists are examples of students she thinks would especially benefit from this experience.

Anyone interested in volunteering on a more regular basis can visit the Student Volunteer Bureau. The bureau acts as a hub for volunteerism that offers short and long term positions. Students can visit www.mun.ca/volunteer for details. 

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