Freshman Lynn Schrag didn’t expect to spend his first weekend at Kansas University hanging out with a bunch of grade schoolers.
But that was exactly what he was doing Saturday afternoon as he played school-yard games with a group of young students, who are waiting to be matched with volunteers through Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Schrag was among the roughly 260 students who participated in the KU Center for Community Outreach’s service project. And for Schrag, participating in the community service event wasn’t a hard sell.
“They had me at dodgeball,” he said.
A few miles across town, KU students were interacting with a slightly older crowd — residents at Pioneer Ridge Retirement Community, 4851 Harvard Road.
That group of volunteers spent the day playing bingo and beach volleyball and helping decorate for a beach-theme party set for that afternoon.
“It’s fun, it’s not volunteering,” said freshman Miranda Naylor, who was standing in front of a kiddy pool of sandcastles she made for the party.
Students also spent the day working at the campus gardens, Humane Society, Habitat for Humanity and in local parks.
The Center for Community Outreach hoped the day would give students a sense early in the semester about volunteer opportunities.
“The main thing is to … give them a glimpse of the volunteer locations in the community of Lawrence,” said co-director David Wilcox. “It’s a microcosm of what CCO does all year, which is provide opportunities to go out and volunteer.”
Cathy Brashler, with Big Brothers Big Sisters, said she hopes students will think about volunteering with her organization.
“It’s so much easier to get involved once you have met some of the kids,” Brashler said. “You don’t have to do anything special. Just be yourself.”