WKU Housing and Residence Life, the Alive Center, Student Activities and Gatton Academy all teamed up last week to celebrate National Volunteer Week. Throughout the week, several events were held to encourage volunteerism and celebrate volunteers.
Four WKU students were recognized for their service both on campus and in the community.
Gatton Academy senior Aaron Brzowski, along with a close friend, founded Project Purus. Brzowski said Project Purus began with his friend’s involvement in an organization called Open World Cause, which provided two laptop computers for a school in Nepal.
Through this organization they learned that this school didn’t have access to clean water. During recess, the students had to hike to retrieve clean drinking water.
Project Purus raised money to buy filters, which the participants shipped to the school. Now the school has three filters students can use.
Project Purus has also worked in Haiti and with other organizations in Nepal.
Brzowski said their current project will be done within the next month, and he’s unsure what the next step will be.
“We are still trying to pursue new options. We’re really open to a lot of places,” Brzowski said.
Brzowski just received a research grant and will be traveling to Nepal this summer to work with the students in the school Project Purus provided filters for.
Another volunteer, recent WKU graduate McKinley Mason, started Big Red Box of Blessings for the local community. The boxes were filled with snacks, toys, hygiene products, and school supplies. WKU student organizations and athletic teams donated the gifts.
Shortly before Christmas, Mason, along with WKU cheerleaders and Big Red, delivered the boxes to the children. They read “The Christmas Story” to the children and also put on a Christmas skit for them.
Mason said she fell in love with Curbside Ministries, and since they were so well established in the community, she decided to partner with them.
“I wanted to do something to give back to the kids and make Christmas a little more special for them,” Mason said.
Bardstown freshman Lauren Osbourne is a member of the community service sorority Omega Phi Alpha. Osbourne is a cancer survivor and tailors much of her community service to the disease.
She is a member of the Relay for Life Committee and raised $300 for Up ‘Til Dawn, an event that raises money for St. Jude’s. In addition to the fundraising Osbourne does through school and OPA, she is raising money for Miley Hodge, a seven-year-old girl in her hometown who is battling cancer.
Osbourne has raised money to help Hodge’s family by setting up jars for donations in local restaurants and selling ‘Prayers for Miley’ bracelets. Osbourne loves helping others and aspires to be a chemotherapy nurse at St. Jude’s.
Another volunteer, Louisville sophomore Mckinze Vowels, is passionate about service learning.
Vowels coaches students at WKU who are working on a Hundred Dollar Solution project. She helps students write grants and learn about community partnerships.
Vowels is an intern at the WKU Alive Center and also spends her time helping with the Bingocize program.
Bingocize is a combination of Bingo and exercise for elderly people.
“Bingocize is right up my alley, I’m a gerontology minor,” Vowels said. “I’ve always enjoyed older adults and I truly believe in what the program is doing.”