January 27, 2015 | By Lana Ferguson, Courtesy of The Daily Mississippian
Since College Corps’s inception on campus in 2010, students have completed more than 40,000 hours of service in the Oxford-Lafayette community. There are 72 spots available for students to work with the volunteer program.
Doug Odom (BA English and classics ’13) is an AmeriCorps VISTA, or volunteer in service to America, serving in the Provost’s Office. Odom is in charge of marketing and recruiting for the College Corps program on campus.
“College Corps is a community based AmeriCorps program that strives to connect its members to volunteer opportunities in the Oxford-Lafayette community,” Odom said.
All members are placed at sites for a year-long term where they complete their service. Members who complete at least 300 service hours before the end of the school year are eligible for the AmeriCorps Segal Education Award. The award totals $1,175 and can be used towards qualified expenses, like tuition and loans.
“The mantra of College Corps is to fight poverty through education and food security,” Odom said. “Our students provide consistent service at local schools and nonprofits that really cannot afford to hire any more full time employees.”
College Corps has partnerships with 14 services sites, including: local schools, Boys and Girls Club, Leap Frog After-School Tutoring and Mentoring Program, UM Food Bank and others.
“Last year, from September to the beginning of December, our students served nearly 6,000 hours,” Odom said.
One of those students is senior Page Meredith. Meredith is currently serving her second year as a part of the College Corps program and has dedicated over 400 hours of service.
“I was introduced to College Corps after a member did a brief presentation in my public policy leadership class,” Meredith said. “I was immediately intrigued by the program’s focus to directly impact those in Lafayette County.”
Meredith works with the non-profit organization Oxford Lovepacks. Lovepacks was started in 2012 and works to provide meals to school-aged children in need on weekends and holidays. Since working with Lovepacks, Meredith helped to raise over 1,300 pounds of food in a single food drive this past fall and the impact of the organization has increased by 2,000 percent.
“Philanthropy is great,” Meredith said. “But when you can impact those in your backyard—it’s even better.”
Students who are interested can fill out an application at www.collegecorps.olemiss.edu/apply. Students complete an application online then interview and, if accepted, will be placed at a service site.
“Our volunteers have given back so much to the community, but the need is still there,” Meredith said. “There is still work to be done.”