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Charities come together in need of volunteers

As students walked through the Atrium in the Shepherd Union Building Wednesday, they were surrounded with booths all promoting the same message: volunteer.

More than 21 organizations participated in the Community Involvement Center’s Volunteer Fair, each of which wanted to enroll new volunteers.

Operation Adopt a Ghost is a local organization that Linda Larsen created after her son was deployed back in 2008, and she began sending him care packages.

“I used to send him lots of stuff,” Larsen said, “and he said stop a little bit because some of these people get nothing.”

Her son gave her four names of soldiers who she could send things to.

“By the end of the day, I had adopted these four soldiers that he worked with, which was great,” Larsen said.

Larsen said that from that point the efforts expanded and the organization is now supporting 4,200 soldiers.

“We’ve shipped everything from tennis shoes to rat traps,” Larsen said, “which makes us really unique in the realm of soldier support. I find out what their real needs are, what they are desperate about, what things will lighten their loads, make them more comfortable.”

Larsen is looking for volunteers who can design their own projects within the program, which allows participants to do as much or as little as they want without having someone telling them what to do.

WSU student Mike Rumpsa came to the Volunteer Fair to find a way to fulfill his service hours for a communication class. He decided that either the Nature Center or Live United would be a good place to go.

“Something that helps out the community would be good,” Rumpsa said.

For students who want to go out of the country to volunteer, Rising Star Outreach is one option. Rising Star volunteers go to India to help people living in leprosy colonies. In India, leprosy is seen as a curse, and the people who have it are sent away from mainstream society.

“They have no opportunities,” said Dani Shurtleff, program director at Rising Star Outreach. “They can only beg on the streets.”

Rising Star Outreach has also built a school, which 200 children now attend.

“They receive a better education than most people in India,” Shurtleff said.

Volunteers spend either one or three weeks in India helping teach children, doing construction or helping the sick.

The Girl Scouts are also looking for volunteers to help with events, help with outreach programs and to even run troops.

Both men and women can volunteer for Girl Scouts. June Loveless, who was working at the Girl Scout booth,  also mentioned that the question she gets asked the most from people is when Girl Scout cookies go on sale. The Girl Scouts will be selling them at booths in March.

Even though the fair is over, students can still get information about the organizations through the CIC.

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