Super Service Saturday was launched during the Hawk Week on August 27th to introduce KU students to community service in Lawrence.
As the Center for Community Outreach’s (CCO) largest event of the year, Super Service Saturday is a volunteer opportunity that buses KU students to varyious locations around Lawrence to work with local non-profit organizations.
Executive Director of CCO Ike Uri said Super Service Saturday began not long after the birth of CCO, and while the structure of the event has remained consistent, one of the main focuses of recent years for CCO is on improving the quality of students’ volunteer experience by adding an educational portion.
“We want people to connect with non-profits and learn about a specific cause or problem in the Lawrence community that those non-profits are working to solve… (each site) has an educational component… It’s part of a collaborative adventure.”
CCO worked with 24 non-profit organizations this year, and the process of selecting those organizations involves almost every registered non-profit in Douglas county.
Uri emphasized that although the preparation is fun, it involves difficulties and hard work.
“It’s quite a process,” Uri said, “One thing that we focus on is matching community needs with our needs… We’re trying to get as many people into quality volunteering slots, but we can’t always do that… because their size really can’t handle that many volunteers.”
Ike also mentioned the struggles fundraising with state cutting back the funding for KU, saying “we’ve really had a difficult time getting enough funding for this event, but we’ve managed to pull through. That was the biggest challenge this year was finding the money for it.”
Freshman are the target participants of the Hawk Week. It is the only Hawk Week event that focuses on experiential learning and hollistic learning throught community service. Freshman Quinton Jones one of the thousand students that participated, volunteered at Lawrence Community Shelter.
Jones said his group helped build heavy-duty shelves and organized cans and groceries. He said it’s rewarding to do something that can benefit the community.
“It teaches you that there are so much more to life than just our own personal goals and the things we strive for,” Jones said, “it’s something that everybody should try to do to give to people who are less fortunate.”
The Kitchen Manager of the shelter Logan Elder said student volunteers are very helpful especially when they lack human resources.
“The kitchen itself doesn’t run without volunteers, and the warehouse definitely doesn’t run without man power,” Elder said, “The shelter is always lacking a substantial amount of man power, and it’s nice to have this many people out here.”
According to Elder, students are always energetic and eager to learn about what they do, see more, and get involved. He also said Super Service Saturday often encourages people to volunteer more, and they need people to come back because students are the shelter’s “lifeblood”.
Freshman Macie Clawson, volunteered at Boys and Girls club. She helped with maintenance and built games for the kids. She said Super Service Saturday gave her an opportunity to connect with people of Lawrence and students with more diverse backgrounds.
“Even if someone is coming to KU, and they have never been to Lawrence before, haven’t lived here; this is their home for the next four years,” Uri said, “It’s important to be engaged with that, to understand the problems that exist, and to do something, something that’s interesting, something that’s fun, something that’s rewarding to help solve these problems. ”