Author: Volunteers can change the world

“Tzedakah,” a Hebrew word meaning righteousness, kindness toward others and repairing the world, summarizes a message of community service, said Nicky Spivak, executive director for the USF Hillel Foundation.

Participation in volunteer work, Spivak said, is becoming a part of USF’s culture because more organizations, including fraternities and sororities, are incorporating community service into membership requirements. Some professors are also making it a requirement in their curriculums.

Danny Siegel, author, poet and motivational lecturer, will examine student participation in volunteer work at 7 tonight in the University Lecture Hall.

His lecture, “The Power of College Students – How to Solve all the World’s Problems by Making Just One Phone Call,” informs students about the ease in making a difference in the world.

Siegel’s lecture is meant to encourage students to get involved in community service. Siegel has offered presentations on Tzedakah to more than 200 Jewish communities.

“Danny Siegel really advocates being involved in something,” Spivak said.

During the 2001-02 school year, more than 5,000 students served 35,000 hours in community service, said Amy Simon, Volunteer USF’s services coordinator.

Volunteer USF has about 40 students who work in teams to improve issues in the environment, education and senior citizen care. The members organize projects in the community, including mentoring programs and single-day services.

But some full-time students who also work don’t think they have time for community service.

“Being an engineering student, I don’t feel that I have time to give away,” senior Jonathan Herrick said. “I’m unable to shorten my hours (at work) because I pay for all my own expenses and still struggle to find time for difficult and demanding classes.”

Spivak said contributions can be as simple as recycling in residence halls or just taking a few minutes a day to help others. Simon suggested donating blood as a contribution.

“A half hour a week can make a difference,” Spivak said. “With a minimal amount of time, anyone can make a difference,” he said.

“Service doesn’t need to be a big-time commitment,” Simon said. “You may not have to even leave campus to do it.”