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National Volunteer Month brings opportunities for students to give back

ASU offers students the ability to join organizations and external nonprofits for volunteering experience


"Changemaker also opens students up to opportunities outside of the organization, linking students to external nonprofits, according to their ASU website. "

In light of National Volunteer Month in April, ASU students can sign up for an array of volunteer opportunities to contribute to the Valley's community, ranging from animal shelters to student-based organizations. 

The Arizona Humane Society is a dedicated animal shelter in Phoenix that offers vet services, vaccinations and pet care. The shelter has saved over 150,000 pet lives through its efforts.

"It's a space where these pets might not have anywhere else to go," Jennifer Armbruster, the senior manager of public relations for the Arizona Humane Society, said. "So our goal is really to be that safety net. We structure many of our programs to ensure that we can keep pets and people together." 

Foster families, called foster heroes on the website, can provide a home environment for animals to recover wholly outside the shelter. Armbruster said they are a key component in ensuring an animal gets the best care possible for its situation, although some animals will have to stay in the shelter due to health issues. 

"Summer is a very busy time for animal shelters across the board, especially here in Arizona," Armbruster said. "Kitten season has begun here. We're going to see an influx not just for us, but (for) animal shelters across the state and the country, of orphaned kittens." 

Armbruster said that in 2023, the organization had over 2,200 volunteers and foster families, in addition to 360 staff members, which "expands our ability to care for pets dramatically." 

"We very much look to our volunteers to help us kind of get through those busy seasons," Armbruster said. "Anything they can do to help the pets is such a help to us, and we appreciate folks considering the Arizona Humane Society for that." 

Armbruster said college students should consider volunteering, as hours are flexible, and students can pick when they want to volunteer, whether deciding to go for one day or signing up for multiple shifts. 

"Volunteers expand our ability to support our community, so it's the extra hands that can help with the care of walking dogs (or) caring for cats," Armbruster said. "When people step up and volunteer their time, we are able to support more animals that come through. We're able to give the one-on-one individualized care."

To volunteer, students can apply and complete the online orientation on the website, then pay the $25 fee for volunteer gear and equipment.

ASU student organizations offer alternatives to provide service, exemplified by Changemaker, a student-led organization funded by the University to give students opportunities in entrepreneurship and connection. 

"Giving back to the community – not only is it a good thing to do, it's being able to understand that people do have hard times," Vidhura Kumar, a freshman studying business and a Changemaker program activator, said. "It's better to help those people in hard times because, if you do fall into those hard times, you would lean on other people as well." 

ASU Changemaker Central is also involved in volunteer opportunities for neighboring areas. Even so, Pratham Gogia, a sophomore studying business data analytics and supply chain management, said many students are unaware of the organization.  

Gogia said the organization is built on three pillars: sustainability, social entrepreneurship, innovation and service. Its events and workshops are centered around this mission. 

Changemakers' volunteer event, Devils in Disguise, allows thousands of students to aid nonprofits across the Phoenix area. 

"Devils in Disguise is more than giving to the ASU community," Shreya Omar, a sophomore studying architectural studies, said. "It's for giving to the whole community, even outside of ASU."

Omar said that the event will allow students to learn the value of "responsibility towards the neighborhood" and includes students who will decorate safe storage bins for Keys to Change, a nonprofit dedicated to providing resources for people experiencing homelessness.

"You learn how to work with other people, you understand problems, you understand your neighborhood, which is quite important," Omar said. "You get to socialize through these volunteering events. The most important thing is you learn how to work together."

Changemaker also opens students up to opportunities outside of the organization, linking students to external nonprofits, according to their ASU website. 

Another way for students to get involved in opportunities and nonprofits is through the health of residents, such as the medical nonprofit the American Red Cross.

READ MORE: The Red Cross emphasizes student, professor presence in disaster relief, healthcare efforts

Red Cross is an additional volunteer opportunity, allowing students to participate in blood donations, disaster health services and their disaster action team. 

"We're 90% volunteers, so a lot of people who are there are choosing to be there," Georgi Donchetz, the communications manager for the Arizona and New Mexico region at the American Red Cross, said. "The people who choose to work here have the biggest heart."

Edited by Katrina Michalak, Walker Smith and Grace Copperthite.

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