Volunteering worth time

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    What’s more rewarding than money? Some people will say nothing, but others, including many TCU students, will say volunteering. No, volunteers don’t get paid, but there are many aspects of volunteering that make it more appealing than a job that pays.Students can find various volunteer opportunities virtually anywhere – including on campus. KinderFrogs and Starpoint schools provide on-campus opportunities for students to get involved with incredible people. Many students, including myself, have discovered the joy and rewards of being involved in these programs.

    According to sofe.tcu.edu, “Beyond providing early childhood educational services to children with Down Syndrome, the mission of KinderFrogs School is to serve as an on-campus training site for TCU students in the School of Education and other university programs. TCU students are an active and vital part of KinderFrogs School as observers, practice teachers, classroom aides and beginning educational researchers.”

    Speaking from experience, the rewards of volunteering at this school can be reaped not only by students from the School of Education, but by anyone willing to donate his or her time. There are no time requirements or set hours such as a job, and there are no cranky bosses to deal with – only instructors and other helpful student aides. These factors, along with others, contribute to a very relaxed atmosphere.

    Students volunteer at KinderFrogs and Starpoint for a variety of reasons. Among these are community service, experience or just the joy of being around children. For many, it’s a combination of these.

    Students can get community service hours from various sources, but only at KinderFrogs or Starpoint can students stay on campus and work with incredible children. Even volunteering at other schools doesn’t provide the same experience as these schools. They are a little different than many early childhood schools because of the unique children who attend and the wonderful adults who make up the staff.

    Many students, such as freshman advertising/public relations major Samantha Roberts, just like working with the kids. “I enjoy spending time with children; plus, it’s very rewarding to volunteer, and it’s less stressful than a job.”

    Roberts has been volunteering for about seven hours a week at KinderFrogs School for almost a month.

    “I usually work with the toddlers, and it was a little harder to communicate at first, but it is so much fun that the little bit of frustration doesn’t last very long,” he said.

    For students who need community service hours but, for some crazy reason, don’t like children, KinderFrogs and Starpoint can still provide an opportunity to complete hours. Filing, cleaning, organizing and other regular office work has to be done – just like at any business. But if you ask me, it would be psychotic to want to do that instead of working with the children, who are pure energy, not to mention tons of fun.

    I will admit that it was a little intimidating at first – being surrounded by kids and not knowing what to say or do to entertain them; I found myself thinking self-consciously about what I should do. Soon I realized children, no matter what age, don’t need to be entertained. They can do so themselves – very efficiently. I didn’t need to act cool; six-year-olds don’t care if you’re cool.

    After almost three months of volunteering at the school, I have given up relatively little (only my time and only on my own terms) to learn quite a bit. There is something amazing happening with some incredible children on our campus, and students who find the time to be a part of it will not regret the decision to do so.

    Dan Plate is a freshman business major from Ogallala, Neb. His column appears every Friday.