From making sandwiches at Saturday’s Bread to visiting with residents of the Hampshire House adult home, SUNY Oneonta students volunteer more than 50,000 hours of service each year to nearly 100 nonprofit agencies in Oneonta and beyond through our nationally recognized Center for Social Responsibility and Community (CSRC).
The culture of service at SUNY Oneonta extends well beyond the CSRC. Each year, the Greek Community Service Award recognizes the sorority or fraternity that completes the most community service projects. Student athletes participate in service activities ranging from leaf raking for the elderly to the annual Kids in Sports Day. In 2014, SUNY Oneonta was one of three Division III schools across the country recognized by the National Association of Division III Athletic Administrators for outstanding student-athlete engagement in community service. Following the extreme devastation caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in fall 2011, athletes and coaches provided more than 500 hours of community service in surrounding communities severely impacted by the rising floodwaters.
SUNY Oneonta students also support a variety of causes through clubs and organizations. In 2011, SUNY Oneonta became the first college in New York state to sponsor a Canstruction competition, creating sculptures made of nonperishable canned foods that were donated to local food banks. The event has continued every year since, with teams from the community joining in to raise more than 2,000 pounds of food for Otsego County food banks. Our most recent American Cancer Society Relay for Life, co-hosted by the Colleges Against Cancer chapters at SUNY Oneonta and neighboring Hartwick College, raised over $50,000. Even our Harry Potter Club is civic-minded; holding an annual Yule Ball to benefit Oneonta Reading Is Fundamental, a nonprofit organization that distributes free books to elementary school children.
Faculty and staff participate in service and lead students in volunteer activities. The college’s Seva Compassionate Service Faculty Award is presented annually to a faculty member who exemplifies the ideals of service and involves students in service-learning. The first recipient led several groups of students to the Gulf Coast to offer relief after Hurricane Katrina. Other examples range from Fashion for Food, a dinner and fashion show organized by human ecology students to raise money for the St. Mary’s food pantry, to a faculty-led Spanish field course in San Andres, Colombia, where students donated personal care and school supplies and planned activities to do with local schoolchildren.