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UWRF volunteers spread help across the world

October 29, 2009

Through the direction of the Student Life office, UW-River Falls students, faculty and staff are coming to the aide of those in need locally and abroad. 

The Student Life office acts as a campus organizer in planning and conducting service activities. It provides an avenue for contacts for anyone affiliated with UWRF who wishes to join a volunteer driven organization.

Amy Lloyd, leadership and service coordinator for the office, said Student Life works to get people from UWRF who want to volunteer involved in a wide range of programs.

“We’ll get [UWRF volunteers] connected if they want help doing something,” she said.

To better organize the local and area-wide opportunities for those who wish to participate, Lloyd said the Student Life office has separated the programs into two groups. “Service on the Kinni” is made up of volunteer opportunities in River Falls, and “Service off the Kinni,” includes opportunities area-wide, many of which are in the Twin Cities.

“Online you can find all the contact information to the nonprofits in the area,” she said.

Though “Service on the Kinni” is thriving, getting involved in the surrounding area has proved to be more difficult.

“Getting students to commit to showing up is hard,” Lloyd said. “Reliable transportation has also been an issue.”

Because of these factors in-part, Student Life has focused on needs in River Falls, Lloyd said. This includes raising awareness for a Relay for Life event, which takes place at River Falls High School each year, to volunteering time at local long-term care facilities, or simply reading to children at the public library. 

UWRF sophomore Grace Adofoli carried her work with American Cancer Society in high school over to volunteering for the Relay for Life fundraiser walk.

“It’s great that our age group is dealing with this problem,” she said. “Everybody can make a difference, even if it’s just showing up to walk. Any support is appreciated because cancer can affect everyone.”

The 2010 fundraiser will be held March 26 and 27.

A project that has been in the works for some time is Building Tomorrow, Lloyd said.

Building Tomorrow is a coalition of 19 colleges and universities throughout the U.S. that raise money to build schools in Uganda.

“This is a program that I think is about to explode,” Lloyd said.

Fifteen UWRF students have traveled to Ugandan village of Jomba to help in the effort since early 2007, according to the organization’s Web site. 

Over the past three years UWRF volunteers have raised over $14,000 through various fundraisers, Lloyd said.

Building Tomorrow teamed UWRF up with the City of Indianapolis to build the BT Academy of Jomba, according to an Aug. 17, press release by the organization. The school is expected to serve more than 300 students from Jomba and three surrounding villages.

The groundbreaking ceremony for construction was attended by the vice president of Uganda, Gilbert Bukenya, according to the release. The school is expected to open in the summer of 2010.

“We’re very much excited to bring a BT Academy to Jomba,” Building Tomorrow Director Joseph Kalisa said in the release. “There are no public primary schools here in this area and we’re excited to give [our students] the chance to receive a formal education.”