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Community service opportunities abound during holiday season

For those interested in getting involved, Fresno State’s Associated Students Inc. and Fresno’s Poverello House are offering opportunities to give back to the community during the holiday season.

On Thursday, ASI will celebrate its 8th annual Caroling for Cans campaign from 9 a.m. to noon.  Students and volunteers will stop at different offices on campus and sing Christmas carols as a way of saying thank you for the non-perishable items that will be contributed to residents of El Dorado Park.

The aim of the campaign is to help combat food shortages in the nearby neighborhood, just west of Fresno State campus. Donation boxes can be found at several locations on campus, such as Starbucks in the Henry Madden Library and on the first floor of the University Student Union.

ASI program and volunteer coordinator Ashleigh Rocker said she feels it’s important for Fresno State students to be involved in community service.

“The El Dorado Park neighborhood heavily relies on its partnership with Fresno State,” Rocker said.  “Without the help of entities on campus, a lot of the volunteer opportunities at El Dorado Park wouldn’t happen.”

This year’s campaign started Dec. 1 and will run until the end of the semester. Items can also be donated after the drive’s deadline directly to Wesley United Methodist Church at 1343 E. Barstow Ave.

“ I’m really thankful at how the university at large always steps up to help the neighborhoods around campus,” Rocker said.  “They always go out of their way to make sure that the neighborhood has what it needs and that volunteers are being sent and donations are being sent, and if it wasn’t for that continued spirit of service that the whole campus has, none of these campaigns would be possible.”

El Dorado Park will also kick off its Star Sponsor campaign as a way to give gifts to the neighborhood children. All the children on the list will put their names on a star – 100 stars in total – and the community at large, including Fresno State, helps find people to sponsor presents for the kids.

Gabriela McNiel, director of marketing and communications and manager of volunteer services and community outreach at Poverello House, said for those interested in participating in helping this holiday season there are both on and offsite opportunities with flexible hours.

One campaign that McNiel is currently working on this holiday season is collecting 3,500 toys for families and children in the community that will distributed on Christmas Day, a tradition of the Poverello House for the past 20 years.

“It’s a little bit different than anyone else,” McNiel said.  “We don’t take finance; we don’t take names or age or any information on kids that come to get a toy.  On Christmas morning, all the children that are in line receive toys.”

Students can also help volunteer with fundraisers offsite or in the comfort of their own home.

“As long as they are good with their computer, they can email me,” McNiel said. “I can let them know ‘I need you to work on a brochure’ or ‘I need you to work on some sort of flyer or a graphic for the website’ and they can do that from home.”

Orientation, for those who’d like to volunteer, is held every Friday at 3:30 p.m. and every Saturday at 10 a.m. For those interested in the Star Sponsor campaign, contact Rocker at arocker@csufresno.edu or call (559) 278-7703.