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Commonwealth Honors College cooks up some community service

com collOn December 10, faculty, staff and students at the Commonwealth Honors College held a “Goodie Auction” that was open to all and raised $362 for the Amherst Survival Center.

The center, which provides community services to low-income and homeless people from Franklin and Hampshire counties, serves an average of more than 125 people a day. The money will be used to support programs such as the center’s Emergency Food Pantry, Soup Kitchen, and Free Health Clinic. With recent economic troubles, the center has seen an increase in people needing food, clothing, and free health care.

Those who participated in the event experienced what it means to “reach inside and make an event out of something you love,” in the words of Debra Lapointe, assistant director of academic programs at the Commonwealth Honors College. “Raising money can be a fun experience,” she said.

This was the first year that the college hosted such an event, but Lapointe, who enjoys baking, said she felt this function would be a good means of bringing the Commonwealth Honors College together for one event.

“I thought this event would be a fun way to have everyone in the college participate,” Lapointe said.

According to Shonda Pettiford, assistant director of communication for the College, the event will likely become annual.

Pettiford explained that the goodie auction successfully brought out members from all facets of the Commonwealth community.

“In essence, the entire college was involved,” she said. “Staff and faculty provided input for planning the auction, while students joined staff and faculty in preparing for and supporting the actual event,” Pettiford added. “The money collected through the auction was a donation on behalf of the entire college.”

The Goodie Auction was held in the form of a silent auction, with bidding open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. At the end of the day, the person who had placed the highest bid on an item got to take home their treats. Pettiford described the auction as, “a fun event,” elaborating that “everyone had a good time; the competition was fun and it was great knowing it was for a good cause.”

The $362 raised went to the University of Massachusetts Amherst Community Campaign (UMACC) and was donated to the Survival Center, which receives half of it support through private donations. According to the Center, due to increased demand for services, financial support is especially crucial at this time.

For students looking to get more involved in community service, Pettiford had some simple advice.

“Do good for others, with others,” she said.

Pettiford explained that the Commonwealth Honors College is dedicated to community service.

“As one of its core values, Commonwealth Honors College promotes community engagement,” she said. “Since its inception, the college has supported Community Service Learning courses and programs.”

“First-year honors students have the opportunity to participate in IMPACT! an honors residential academic program for students with an interest in community service,” she continued. “Through the Citizen Scholars Program, our two-year service learning and leadership program, honors students can develop the knowledge, skills, and vision to build community, be effective citizens, and advocate for social justice,” she furthered. “In addition to these long-standing honors programs, students can participate in community service learning courses designed to connect community service with academic content,” she said. “There are a full range of CSL honors courses as well as CSL (non-honors) courses offered through other departments.”

For students interested in service learning, the office of Community Service Learning in Whitmore is open to all. The Amherst Survival Center also has volunteer opportunities which are listed on their website, http://people.umass.edu/support/asc/.

Kat Manser can be reached at kmanser@student.umass.edu.

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