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Volunteer opportunities still available in Tuscaloosa

Heather Lightsey

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Six months after an EF4 tornado swept through Tuscaloosa and surrounding areas, local charities and volunteer efforts still need help.

While many organizations were bombarded with generous donations of clothes, food and money immediately after the storm, what these organizations still silently ask for is manpower.

Temporary Emergency Services, a nonprofit organization that serves the needs of the community by giving clothing, toiletries and food to certain clients, is one of the many organizations that continues to ask for volunteers.

Sophomore nursing major Julia Harris takes volunteers to TES weekly to help sort through donations and prepare packages for families.

Harris, assistant student director for hunger and homelessness at the Community Service Center, said the organization has had an overwhelming response to the tornado relief.

“Before the tornado, there was nothing,” Harris said. “Now, it’s difficult to get through the hallways because they’re packed with donations. It’s a problem because it’s difficult to maneuver around the office, but it’s a good problem to have.”

Project Blessings, another local organization looking for volunteers, is a nonprofit that fully refurbishes and restores run-down houses to resell at an under-the-market value to deserving families. This organization, similar to Habitat for Humanity, existed before April 27 but has since been helping to rebuild houses badly damaged by the storm.

Schilling Nechtman, assistant student director of civic engagement and outreach at the Community Service Center, said the organization has most recently worked on a house on 13th Street that was damaged by the tornado.

“The man that lives there has been living in the same house in Tuscaloosa for nearly 50 years,” Nechtman said. “He is very thankful that Project Blessings has given him the opportunity to continue doing so.”

In order to help with the immense amount of volunteer opportunities available, the Career Service Center organizes weekly visits to different charities, like TES and Project Blessings, in the Tuscaloosa area.

The CSC has been working with the Tuscaloosa Area Volunteer Reception Center to help with debris removal in Alberta City. They have also been working with the Student Government Association for the last month to encourage students to volunteer with the Tuscaloosa Area Volunteer Reception Center on Sundays through the Sunday Service Initiative.

Another way for students to get involved with tornado relief is through UA Greek Relief, the organization set up by the University’s greek community in response to the tornado damage.

The organization, which has raised over $220,000 in donations since April, is in the process of sorting through grant applications to see where the money should go.

Patrick Morris, one of the chairmen of UA Greek Relief, said the organization is working with SGA to help with debris removal. These “cleanup days” take place on Sundays when there is no home football game.

Wahnee Sherman, director of community service at the Community Service Center, believes that student involvement in the ongoing tornado relief is key.

“There is still a lot of work to be done here in Tuscaloosa,” Sherman said. “Our students can continue to be a major part of that rebuilding effort.”

There are many other groups in the Tuscaloosa area that students can volunteer with such as Project Team Up, Habitat for Humanity and the Salvation Army. To find out more about volunteering with the Community Service Center, visit www.volunteer.ua.edu.

 

SL Pro Instructions on how to volunteer in the Tuscaloosa area:

  1. Log on to http://slpro.ua.edu
  2. Click on “Student”
  3. Select “Create a profile”
  4. Enter your personal information and create a username and password (we recommend using your myBama username and password since it’s easy to remember).
  5. Click “submit profile” at the bottom of the page, and you will be logged into your SL Pro homepage.
  6. Click “browse” in your profile to see the volunteer opportunities currently available to students.
  7. When you find a project that interests you, click “register now” and you will be signed up to serve.
  8. You can return to SL Pro at anytime to log your volunteer hours, review your service record, and sign-up for new volunteer opportunities.

Questions? For further assistance with SL Pro, contact Amy Buchanan in the Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility at (205) 348-1691 or aabuchanan@aalan.ua.edu.

 

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Volunteer opportunities still available in Tuscaloosa