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Honors college students give back through CAC program

BY SHEENA BAKER | Staff Reporter

The Community Actions Component, a Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College program, is giving volunteering a whole new meaning and members of the community are appreciating its services.

The Community Actions Component (CAC) allows honors students to serve the community while earning class credits and shining a positive light on the university.
While most people think serving people without pay is volunteering, Debra Young, associate dean of the honors college, said she doesn’t see it that way.

“We don’t think of it as volunteerism,” Young said. “We have talented kids who see a need in their community and find out what they can do about it.”

Honors students have many options to choose from including tutoring, assisting the elderly and taking care of misplaced animals.

Among these opportunities, Leap Frog, the Boys and Girls Club and different
Greek events are the most popular services honors students choose, Young said.

Senior journalism major Meagan Smith has worked with the Oxford Humane Society since she was a sophomore.

She said it feels nice to work with other people and it helps her grow.

“It has a positive impact on me and volunteering makes you a well-rounded
individual,” Smith said.

The Oxford Humane Society has honor students come in daily to work with the animals and assist workers.

“They help walk the dogs, bathe the dogs and do whatever needs done,” Crystal Reiman, kennel attendant of the Humane Society, said. “They help us out a lot, especially when the full time workers don’t have time to get the extra things done.”

Because honors students are usually loaded down with projects, finding time for CAC is sometimes a challenge.

Dr. Young said anything the honors students are doing to help someone or something would count as a CAC service.

She said some students don’t realize that they fulfilled their CAC requirement
whenever they have done something such as library work or helping a freshman find their way around.

“CAC is something extra,” Young said. “It’s a reporting mechanism and service for another organization is OK.”

Freshmen take advantage of the CAC’s opportunities mostly to break into all the things that honor students take on.

Freshman Douglas Odom said he would be doing several projects in a few weeks.

“I will be working with Habitat for Humanity and the Ford Center,” Odom said. “I have a CAC project coming up Oct. 31 which I will colead.”

Community members don’t take these honors volunteers for granted.

Shirley Gasgow of the Mississippi State Veterans Home said she appreciates
the volunteers coming on a daily basis to assist the veterans.

“They talk with them, play games and push them back and forth to activities,” Gasgow said. “The students interact with the veterans just like you would a grandparent.”

Gasgow said that students have to fill out a form for HIPPA, as many veterans are diabetics or have other health issues and the students, staff and residents need protecting.

She said honors volunteers must also fill out a form and have it signed if it is for a class credit.

On a mission called “Hope For Africa,” honor students raised $25,000 and developed leadership skills in the process, Young said.

This and other community services give young leaders a structure to enrich
the campus, Young said.

“These students should take it personally, and if one project is not right for them, they should find something else,” Young said.