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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Students turn out for annual Volunteer for Carleton week

<lunteer for Carleton, an event run by the Alumni Annual Fund, kicked off last Sunday in The Great Hall. For five consecutive evenings, students could stop by and donate their time and make direct contact with alumni. Aaron Seifert, Assistant Director of the Alumni Annual Fund and a key organizer said this was Carleton’s biggest stewardship event of the year.

The event began as a phone-a-thon in 1996, though over the years, it has evolved into a much bigger event. Volunteers could stop by Great Hall anytime between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. to assist in a variety of ways. Some volunteers wrote thank-you postcards to alumni; others called the alumni directly and showed their appreciation for donations over the phone. Callers also encouraged alumni to continue giving contributions and to attend Carleton reunions. This event also provided an opportunity for the recipients of named scholarships to call the sponsoring alum and personally say thank you.

“Volunteer for Carleton is a great way for students to see how alums contribute back to the college,” Seifert said. “By participating, students learn how alumni can use their resources to help make Carleton a better place for future generations.”

No additional training was needed to volunteer. Supervisors from the Student Calling Program were on hand to help and answer questions anyone might have while making the calls. A flowchart with a suggested script and helpful guidelines for the phone call was also provided.

“Basically, even if you have never done it before, you can come and help out,” Seifert said.

Based on numbers in past years, Seifert estimated that anywhere between 400 and 450 students came to volunteer. “Many students actually choose to come multiple times,” Seifert said, “so the actual number of visits is probably closer to 900.”

Numerous offices, including the admissions office, the career center and the alumni affairs office, were involved in the planning process and contributed to making the event happen. A student committee also provided assistance. “They were extremely helpful in organizing the prizes and with publicizing the event,” Seifert said.

While it is purely a volunteer event, there were little incentives in place to attract participants. Students received gifts, like Carleton pint glasses, every time they made a visit. Organizers of the event also collaborated with restaurants in town in order to provide free food.

Some nights volunteers were treated to Basil’s pizza or Curry Kebab. Additionally, there were prizes to be won. The faculty and staff, as well as businesses in the Northfield area, donated things such as baked goods or discount coupons. Based on the number of points students earned while volunteering, they were then able to bid on the prizes in an auction or participate in the raffle draw.

When asked if there was a more pressing need for the event this year given the current economic situation, Seifert responded, “While it is true that contributions are as important as they have ever been, I view this as more of a stewardship event…I think by participating in Volunteer for Carleton, students learn in a very tangible way how they themselves will be able to give back in the future.”

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