Caring for Columbia

Annual event allows Mizzou students to give back to the local community.

Students hoe a garden
Caring for Columbia volunteers working at the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture during the 2021 day of service. “Everyone was enjoying the service we were doing and having a good time with each other,” said volunteer Grace Wogomon. Sam O’Keefe/University of Missouri

By Jesse Berlin

This story was originally published March 22, 2022.

Mizzou students will fan out across Columbia April 9 for the annual Caring for Columbia day of service.

“The ultimate goal of Caring for Columbia is to give back to the community,” said junior Grace Wogomon, a Caring for Columbia volunteer. “Most of us come and live here for four years … This organization allows us to give back.”

Each spring, Caring for Columbia volunteers serve at sites throughout town, from local non-profits to homes in the community’s underserved neighborhoods. Volunteers can choose the service areas they prefer. These include children, animals, education, environment, health and homelessness.

Students interested in taking part can sign up as individuals or as part of a group via Caring for Columbia’s Engage page by April 4.

This year’s event will be Wogomon’s second. She had volunteered with STRIPES and Tiger Pantry but says Caring for Columbia helped her connect with the broader community. “Caring for Colombia provided that opportunity to bridge that gap,” she said. “This offers an opportunity for you to connect with new people.”

“Everyone was enjoying the service we were doing and having a good time with each other,” Wogomon added.

“We know students can’t necessarily dedicate on a weekly basis to a service project,” said junior Matt Hemmersmeier, Caring for Columbia’s executive director. “By taking a first step of doing one day of service, it can help build a bridge between community partners and students and kind of help foster those relationships.”

Hemmersmeier says student should consider getting involved because of the impact they can have on others and on themselves. Serving changes students’ priorities, he says, and turns them into active citizens.

“We are constantly thinking about the needs, the priorities of our community, and how we can best address those,” Hemmersmeier said. “Just getting involved for the day, you start that journey.”

The day of service begins at 8 a.m. April 9 on Speakers Circle, where volunteers enjoy a complimentary breakfast before they are transported to their service sites. The day ends around noon.

“Serving alongside fellow Tigers is a rewarding experience,” said Interim Coordinator of Service Roni Becherer, who oversees Caring for Columbia. “It is so fulfilling to see the work that is accomplished and see the impact that even a few hours of service can have.”

Involvement is the number one predictor for student success. The Mizzou Student Experience Fund enhances out-of-classroom learning and development opportunities for all students. Support the Mizzou Student Experience Fund this Giving Day, March 8-9!

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