Who Cares a Lot? GSU Does, and We’ll Show It March 8

Georgia State classrooms will be empty Saturday, March 8, but students will still be hard at work — alongside faculty members, alumni and friends of the Georgia State community. They’ll be participating in GSU Cares, an annual event matching members of the Georgia State family with charities, community organizations and other worthwhile causes throughout the Atlanta area.

The Georgia State Alumni Association organized the first GSU Cares event last March as part of the university’s centennial celebration, says Whitney Meyer, alumni programs coordinator. Georgia State assigned 370 participants to 20 different organizations around Atlanta in need of volunteers. The organizations ranged from homeless shelters and child-care centers to animal shelters and parks.

“We break it down into different groups,” Meyer explains. “We have environmental preservation and nature; animal welfare; health; homeless/housing services; there’s an option to volunteer on campus; and then we partnered with Georgia’s Own Credit Union for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s live auction for the ‘ShamRockin’ for a Cure’ event.”

“If you like to play with cats and dogs and care for them, you can do that. If you enjoy the park, we’ll be out in the park, a lot of people love Trees Atlanta. We also have an option for students who may not have cars, where they can just walk to Oakland Cemetery and help with groundskeeping.”

The response from the organizations that received volunteer help last year was gratifying, Meyer says. “They’re happy that Georgia State cares about them, and they’re excited to be part of a larger event where they get to showcase their animals, their gardens, their park, whatever they do, and get people to volunteer who might not be familiar these organizations otherwise.”

But the participating students, employees and alumni got plenty out of the first GSU Cares event too. “So many times we have all these different groups randomly going one place one week, then another place the next week,” Meyer explains. “But with GSU Cares, students, faculty and staff, Panther fans, anyone who loves Georgia State can be a part of something bigger, all at the same time. And they feel a stronger connection both to Georgia State and to their community.”

Nearly three weeks before this year’s event, Meyer already had 122 participants signed up. The event has evolved to include project leaders, with some student organizations and even corporate alumni groups such as Home Depot’s volunteering to take on entire projects. Eventually, as Georgia State’s alumni network grows, Meyer says they’d like to start similar events in other cities across the U.S. and even internationally.

This year’s GSU Cares will take place Saturday, March 8 from 9 a.m. to noon. Contact Whitney Meyer at 404-413-1443 or [email protected] to sign up and select a volunteer opportunity; you can also find a full list of projects and an online registration form at www.pantheralumni.com/gsucares.