Students should donate time, energy to good causes while in college



As college students, we often refer to ourselves as “poor college kids.” In many cases, it’s true—student loans, rent, utilities, food and textbooks often require money we don’t have. But we are rich in time, passion, energy and commitment.

Yes, even though we may not like to admit it, we are a committed and passionate group of people—we wouldn’t put time and energy into our academics, work and social lives if we weren’t. Ideally, we will study something we are passionate about and get involved with something we care about—socially, politically, religiously or otherwise. Without even realizing it, we are creating our own template for a charitable lifestyle.

At its Greek roots, philanthropy means “love of humanity” in that it supports “what it is to be human,” according to Wikipedia. But nowhere in this definition is philanthropy necessarily defined as the charitable giving of one’s own monetary assets.

This is an important distinction for college students because we need not be turned off from philanthropy because of a lack of funds. Instead, we should realize how much we have to contribute to “what it is to be human” in our community.

A 2014 Associated Press poll found that adults under age 30 are now more likely than ever to say citizens have an obligation to volunteer. Volunteerism in this age group has grown 14 percent since 1989, according to an analysis by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

We can donate our time. Even if it is two hours a week–volunteering time doesn’t have to mean every second left over at the end of the day.

We can donate our skills. What we’re learning in the classroom can be applied in the community and there are plenty of options for all majors or skill sets.

We can donate our energy and passion. No matter the cause, our passion and willingness to help is what makes non-profits successful.

College students are more than equipped to lead a philanthropic and charitable life when we remember that doing so does not necessitate a monetary contribution. And in the UK and Lexington communities, opportunities abound.

UK’s service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega “provides a foundation of leadership skills to its members that are developed through service to others,” according to the group’s website. The Bluegrass Community Foundation encourages the contribution of passion and ideas, as well as money.

But remember that money does not do the volunteers’ work. It is not the hands and feet of an organization, and does not make the hand-to-hand contact with the community it serves. Volunteerism and our willingness to serve is what truly provides for our community.