Why not help those around you, discover your passions and snag a leadership position? As a freshman in college or any grade for that matter, getting involved in campus organizations serves as not only a way to help the community, but also a way to meet people and become a part of something greater. Sounds like #winning to me. University of Georgia wants Bulldogs to get involved and make change during their college years. Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered.
Check out 10 organizations at UGA that are making a difference.
1. Shop With a Bulldawg
Through shop with a bulldawg, AKA SWAB, students mentor and raise money for underprivileged children in the Athens-Clarke County area. Focusing on an event that takes place during the holiday season, SWAB hosts children and their families for a day of educational and entertaining activities at UGA. Students then bus to Walmart with their assigned mentee, where children spend money raised by UGA students on holiday gifts they would not otherwise have. The holiday season is all about giving, am I right?
2. Clarke County Mentor Program
Wish you could go back to elementary school? The Clarke County Mentor Program pairs UGA students with high school, middle school and elementary age kids in Clarke County public schools. After choosing which age group they would like to work with, they go through training sessions and background checks. Once cleared, UGA students meet their mentees and hang out once a week. Mentors get to watch kids grow over their years of involvement. “A lot of kids in the Athens-Clarke area need a friend to listen to them and give them advice,” sophomore Anne Compton said. “It’s a good way for different age groups and backgrounds in the community to connect.
3. Food 2 Kids
Many children in the Athens-Clarke area have limited access to food. Sometimes a child’s only meal of the day comes from school. F2K provides non-perishable meals to underprivileged children in the area on Friday afternoons for them to eat over the weekend, eliminating the weekend hunger gap. “No one performs at their best when they’re hungry,” senior Natalie Amante said. “We believe our kids on the Food2Kids program are given a better opportunity to be successful, and maybe even go to UGA one day.” UGA students package and prepare these meals once a week to be delivered to Athens area schools on Friday morning.
4. You’re Not Alone
UGA’s YNA counsels students faced with mental illness, connecting those with similar experiences in order to grow a community centered around mental health for college-age young adults. Junior Elizabeth Willis founded the club as a freshman. “It is not about how big YNA gets,” Willis said. “But more so about the relationships and the community that it forms. I know that I will have done my job if at least one person feels as if they are not alone on this campus.”
5. Extra Special People
Right outside Athens in Watkinsville, Extra Special People helps young people with disabilities and their families. The org offers family support, after school enrichment programs and an eight-week summer camp for disabled children and adults. UGA students fundraise for ESP, increase awareness for people with disabilities and interact directly through volunteering. “ESP invests personally in all of their members, families and participants to create experiences that change all lives for the better,”said junior Tyler King, president of ESP at UGA. “The mission and culture of this club is something that never ceases to amaze me.”
Did you know UGA’s CURE has provided over 40 surgeries around the world through fundraising events on campus and in the Athens area? CURE raises money to provide surgeries for people with curable diseases that could not afford them otherwise. “I feel super thankful to have had the opportunity to be involved in CURE these past few years not only for the incredible community it has brought me at UGA, but also for the way it has connected me to such an awesome cause all the way across the world,” said Madison Read, a member of CURE executive board.
7. Special Olympics
UGA Special Olympics works with special needs children and adults throughout the area. They fundraise, plan outings, assist in PE and help during games. Students volunteer at PE classes in Clarke county schools (to bring you back to your dodgeball glory days), fundraise through events around campus and attend weekly sports practices—allowing them to develop relationships with special needs athletes in the community.
8. Free the Girls
What do you do with bras you grow out of? This national nonprofit raises awareness for human trafficking and helps survivors of sex trafficking re-enter the workforce by selling second-hand bras donated by students through so-called “bra drives.” Women then alter and re-sell the bras as a business model. “Free The Girls gives a voice to those who have been silenced and provides material ways for them to get a fresh start to their lives and support their families,” said sophomore Emi Goh, Co-Director of Public Relations. For those interested in anything from women’s rights to international affairs, this one’s for you.
9. Pet Adoption and Welfare Society
Did someone say puppies? PAWS, AKA the Pet Adoption and Welfare Society, facilitates volunteering for its members at the Athens-Clarke County Animal Control shelter. The group also fundraises for the Animal Shelter through events around campus, encouraging responsible adopting in the community to lower euthanizing rates in the shelter. If you miss your family pet terribly, you’ll want to join ASAP.
10. Relay for Life
Relay for life works with the American Cancer Society to fundraise and raise awareness for cancer and cancer patients. “I love Relay because I’ve met some of the most inspiring and dedicated people through it,” said junior Frances Monardo, Relay’s marketing director. “Everyone is working towards something extremely important, which I find value in because a lot of people don’t exhibit that level of selflessness in college.” Relay members set up events (including a pub crawl) throughout the year that culminate in a 12 hour overnight event in the spring.