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Organization hopes to give students a chance at a prestigious award

By joining with a national council, USF students could someday receive an honor from the nation’s capital.

Student organization USF Service for Peace (USFP) announced a partnership with the national Council on Service and Civic Participation (CSCP), which was formed by former President George W. Bush to honor Americans in community service and civic engagement, earlier this month.

“It’s a way to recognize people who are doing something to impact their community,” said Marc Felix, president of USFP and a senior majoring in biology.

Volunteer participants have the opportunity to receive the president’s Volunteer Service Award, which is categorized into groups by individual work, family or group work and age groups.

Service for Peace’s national branch has worked with CSCP before, but the USFP hasn’t since Feb. 1, Felix said.

By registering, said Johnathan Houston, the group’s public relations officer, USF students can become eligible for the award through the organization. He said students don’t have to be in USFP to be honored for the award, though.

“Service hours that the volunteers gain do not necessarily need to come from Service for Peace,” said Houston, a freshman majoring in interdisciplinary social sciences. “We’re just a certified organization able to record the hours that you have and see which awards you qualify for.”

Members are mostly involved in agricultural projects throughout the community, Houston said. The national branch is credited with organizing projects like Global Peacemakers, Reading for Peace and International Day of Peace.

An additional way for students to get involved is to join Global Peace Makers, another student-run service organization. Every year, the group chooses a site for a service project. This year, it’s the earthquake in Haiti, he said.

“I was already signed up for a spring break (trip), but after what happened in Haiti, I changed my mind to do a spring break in Haiti,” Felix said. “We can do something to help the community, not only just giving money.”

Darius Wynn, a senior majoring in chemistry, has been a member of USFP since the organization was established on campus about a year and a half ago.

“It’s just a few hours or so out of your day,” he said. “You go, you spend time with a group of good people and you go home. You come back feeling good about it.”

No USF students have received the Volunteer Service Award.