Students volunteering in UMSL Community Garden

The UMSL Serves initiative both encourages new acts of service and highlights the work that UMSL is already doing out in the community. (Photo by Derik Holtmann)

As the University of Missouri–St. Louis continues to celebrate its 60th anniversary, the university is recommitting to its mission of service with an ambitious initiative to serve the community.

UMSL has set a goal to complete 60,000 hours of volunteerism and service between August 21, 2023, and May 11, 2024. Hours can be reported through the UMSL Serves website.

“UMSL is here for the community through education, outreach and engagement, and service is a component of that,” Director of Community Engagement & Outreach Patricia Zahn said. “We wanted to use this 60th anniversary opportunity to commemorate our impact and what we’re doing in the community and to log those service hours that we’re doing already. We are encouraging anyone and everyone who is a friend of UMSL, works at UMSL or goes to school at UMSL to log their service hours.”

Anyone interested in volunteering can also visit the UMSL Serves website to find service opportunities around town through the United Way of Greater St. Louis.

“For any nonprofit where they want to serve, they can look at that volunteer resource for location or hours of the day that they’re available, as well as interest area,” Zahn says. “If they’re interested in doing something with animals, they can put that in there. If they’re interested in doing something with children or elderly adults, they can put that in there and find service opportunities and then they can log their hours on our UMSL Serves website.”

As part of the initiative, departments and colleges at UMSL, as well as alumni and friends out in the community, are encouraged to join together in groups and serve the community in recognition of the 60th anniversary milestone. This month, students, faculty and staff in the Pierre Laclede Honors College will come together for a week of service from Oct. 23-27. Plans include a food drive, a drive for care items for Lydia’s House, a Project Linus event and a clean-up in Kinloch, Missouri. The Office of Student Involvement will also host the annual Trunk or Treat event on Oct. 28.

In addition to logging their hours through the UMSL Serves website, participants are encouraged to share their community service experiences on social media, tagging UMSL and using the hashtags #UMSL60 and #UMSLServes.

Zahn says the initiative is designed both to inspire additional acts of service and to highlight the work that UMSL is already doing in the community, pointing to the Triton Pantry, Literacy Clinic and the College of Optometry’s Mobile Eye Center.

“Of course, we want to serve our community and do good things in our community, but we also want to recognize that we have alumni, students, faculty and staff who are out in the community making a difference and that this is a legacy of who we are as our university,” Zahn said. “We are in the community. We’re for the community. We’re serving the community in a variety of different capacities.”

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Heather Riske

Heather Riske

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