Work Study Volunteers Connect with College Town Corps
By: Laura Poff
Through a partnership with Eastern Carolina University, the Greenville, North Carolina, Corps has been able to reduce labor costs and foster lasting connections with young adults in their community.
Stephanie Mackenzie, corps human resources director and volunteer coordinator, joined the corps in 2014. After going through her first kettle season, she realized that a lack of bell ringing volunteers forced the corps to spend money hiring people to do this important work.
“Since 2014, the needs of people coming to the corps had gone up six hundred percent, and our volunteer base went down forty percent. So that gave me even more fire in my belly to get volunteers in here because we have work to do; we need more hands,” Mackenzie said.
She knew that the nearby college, ECU, had a work study program and inquired if work study students would be able to fulfill their volunteer and work hours by doing various tasks around the corps.
“I was told that anything that they do for a nonprofit qualifies,” Mackenzie said.
First, she recruited students to ring bells, and then she sent some to the mission station diner to serve and prepare meals, while others worked in the office.
She told the first group of volunteers to tell their friends and she hasn’t been without help since.
“Once they found out that we were receptive to volunteer work, everybody wanted to volunteer for The Salvation Army,” she said. “Volunteers help us save payroll dollars and every payroll dollar that we can save goes to someone who needs help.”
The corps has saved thousands of dollars by signing up for the work study program which was a simple process. For Mackenzie, all it took was a visit to the ECU website where she found and completed the appropriate paperwork. While students are at the corps, they use a time card and keep track of their hours. Depending on the school, students can work for between 20 to 25 hours per week and any work done for The Salvation Army is applicable.
During the first kettle season alone, the corps saved $30,000 by using volunteers over paid bell ringers.
Since she began partnering with ECU, sororities and fraternities have hosted fundraisers, and the community has learned more about the work of The Salvation Army.
“I think it would benefit every corps to sign up for the work study program,” she said. “It is so simple, I think everyone will wonder why they hadn’t thought of it themselves.”
For information on how to get started, contact Mackenzie at Stephanie_Mackenzie@uss.salvationarmy.org, or visit the website of colleges and universities near you.