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Fresno State student volunteers with Every Neighborhood Partnership program. Photo special to The Collegian.

Fresno State volunteers break community service, economic records

Fresno State broke a record after completing more than 1.3 million hours of community service during the 2016-17 academic year.

The university accumulated 1,386,449 hours of community service completed by about 14,565 volunteers, according to a Fresno State news release.

The economic impact of the community service exceeded $40 million, which itself is a record for the university, according to a university statement.

The Jan and Bud Richter Center host an annual community service opportunities fair at the start of each semester. Nonprofit organizations from the Central Valley and beyond attend the event and provide students with information about volunteer opportunities.

Liliana Toste, who was a student leader at the center for five years, said “You can tell when you come on our campus that ours is a culture of service.”

Toste said she believes serving the community enriches the lives of students. She said she hopes more students get to experience the service opportunities that the university offers.

“The terms ‘millions,’ ‘billions’ and ‘trillions’ are thrown around these days like they don’t mean anything at all,” said Chris Fiorentino, director at the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning at Fresno State. “Our students are doing over 1 million hours every year.”

Fiorentino said students are offered all types of service activities, like three-day long blood drives at the university. In fact, a blood drive is scheduled for Sept. 12 to 14. The first day of the drive begins at 4:30 p.m at the Residence Dining Hall until 7:30 p.m. On Wednesday and Thursday, the drive will move to Maple Mall and the University Student Union from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Ruby Sultan, a senior at Fresno State and a member of The Diabetes Coalition, said she thinks it is great that other students are volunteering.

“Everyone is seeing the importance of giving their time,” Sultan said. “It’s not about donating money, it is more about learning about your own community that you live in and helping your community as a whole,” she added.

Fiorentino says the Richter Center’s goal for next year is to engage more students in service that is meaningful to them and the community.

He said he had never experienced an activity like community service. The act of giving back, Fiorentino said, provides personal, professional and academic development.

“Our students are doing incredible work to make this place a better place for all of us,” Fiorentino said.