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ISSUE 120 VOL 7 PUBLISHED 11/10/2006

Volunteers give service

By Emelie Heltsley
News Editor

Friday, November 10, 2006

Volunteer Network (VN) hosted their bi-annual VN week last week, offering students many opportunities to volunteer and give of themselves and their time. "It was a great week," Liz Frosch '07, VN coordinator, said, mentioning the increased variety of volunteering events.

VN week included the annual VN Halloween Party from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Halloween. Many children from Northfield, including children of St. Olaf faculty and staff, came to enjoy games and candy.

"I chose games for the Halloween Party that were successful in previous years," Kelli Behr '07 said. "The kids seemed to really enjoy it." Behr noted how "less is more" with many children, and she stressed simplicity when planning events.

"I was astounded how amused kids were simply jumping through hula hoops and playing hopscotch," she said.

Apart from the Halloween Party, St. Olaf students were given many opportunities, including a time to rake leaves for elderly Northfield citizens, make cards for Veteran's Day, participate in a community shoe drive and attend a highway clean-up. While Behr praised the strong VN publicity, attendance at events was lower than hoped, according to both Behr and Frosch.

Some of the week's publicized events, such as making cards for Veteran's Day, took students less than five minutes to complete. Frosch said that events with small time commitments were chosen for students who normally cannot devote large amounts of time to regular VN activities.

"PR was excellent in the hallways from Boe to Buntrock and from Buntrock to the library," Behr said. "It provided a brief description of many of the sustained volunteer programs that we offer."

Frosch said that, for VN week next semester, organizers will try to offer more events at different times to allow more students to attend. Behr mentioned Monday’s hot chocolate and pumpkin carving event, saying that, "due to the warm weather and busy students from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., the turnout was not as great as expected."

Frosch and Behr pointed to busy student schedules. "It’s difficult to plan a time for students to quickly volunteer because of music, sports and labs, so we simply provide the opportunity," Behr said.

Despite lower student attendance, Frosch and Behr said that the week went incredibly well, especially for the volunteers and for those organizing the events.

"The volunteers were more engaged with the programs themselves," Frosch said, saying that the increased variety of programs got more volunteers involved as event organizers.

Behr hopes that students and members of the Northfield community will continue to use VN as a resource.

"Volunteering encompasses so many things," she said. "The time commitment can be large or small."

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