Giving back

Caring for Columbia helps students build a long-term passion for volunteering.

Students work to clean up debris in Peace Park
Students work to clean up debris in Peace Park March 13, 2021. Sam O’Keefe/University of Missouri

By Jesse Berlin

Students have an opportunity to serve the local community during Caring for Columbia’s day of service, April 17.

Caring for Columbia Director Landon Brickey, a Mizzou senior, said it’s important for students to give back to the community.

“We take and take a lot, and it’s really important that we give back and that we help and serve our community when they need it most,” he said.

Brickey emphasized the importance of students volunteering this year since the day of service was canceled last year due to the pandemic.

“A lot of our service partners and different residents in Columbia were greatly affected by that and really need our support to make sure that their organizations continue functioning and flourishing,” he said.

Caring for Columbia is more than just an opportunity to pad a résumé with service projects, Brickey said. It also gives students a better understanding of the complexities of the community around them.

“You’re learning why you’re serving and how your [work] can impact people that you never even meet,” Brickey said.

Be part of Caring for Columbia’s day of service. Sign up via Engage by March 26!

Sarah Rielley, coordinator of service for the MU Office of Student Engagement, said Caring for Columbia is an easy way for students to volunteer and develop a greater commitment to service.

Rielley said the needs of the community change frequently, which is a sign of progress.

“It shows that some of their needs are being satisfied, and then new needs arise,” she said, adding that it’s the community partners who identify their needs and how student volunteers can help.

This year, Caring for Columbia and other student-run service programs are turning the need for social distancing into opportunities to focus on outdoor projects that care for the environment.

Mizzou Tigers Stream Team focuses exclusively on the environment, conducting litter cleanups of local watersheds and streams.

Tigers for a Cause collaborates with the city of Columbia to pick up trash, help with beautification projects and remove honeysuckle, an invasive plant species. The group also helps clean up litter around campus.

Both Tigers for a Cause and the Mizzou Tigers Stream Team are partnering with Caring for Columbia during the April 17 day of service.

Also joining in the day of service will be Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Bill Stackman. “I’m proud to see our students giving back to the community, and I want to support them in any way I can, even if that means getting my hands a little dirty,” he said.

MU students can sign up on Engage by March 26. Students can register to take part in Caring for Columbia’s day of service as individuals, as members of a group, or as members of a fraternity or sorority.