Students sponsor week for people who effect change
Student Volunteer Council sets “Changemakers Week” to start Feb. 4
The Student Volunteer Council plans show the University how a shoe, a pencil, a ball of yarn or a smile can initiate positive changes over the upcoming week.
The council, which provides community service initiatives for students, plans to host “Changemakers Week,” a variety of events held Monday through Thursday that plans highlight organizations and companies that fight to make a positive difference in the world.
Vivianne Mohan, communications coordinator for SVC, said all of the events would showcase people who have made a change in their communities, both locally and globally.
“This is the first annual ‘Changemakers Week,’ and we are really excited about it,” said Mohan, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. “We have great events all week long, including the TOMS shoe company [and] Pencils of Promise.”
Mohan said each day, a featured group or organization plans to show the University how it works to make change for the better.
SVC is scheduled to screen “For Tomorrow: The TOMS Shoes Story” on Monday at the Livingston Student Center, said Henah Parikh, co-director of the SVC.
“TOMS will be here Monday and will show a documentary while explaining how they are able to donate shoes to underprivileged children,” said Parikh, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.
Students who attend the event can also register to create their own pair of TOMS shoes, she said.
“Instead of Walmart or Nike, students can buy TOMS. So far we have sold 250 pairs of shoes,” Parikh said. “They can decorate their own shoes, and we will have some Rutgers styles we will be raffling off.”
A raffle for Rutgers Against Hunger is also scheduled to take place at the event, she said.
Adam Braun, the CEO of Pencils of Promise, is scheduled to talk about the importance of building schools in areas with no educational opportunities on Tuesday, Mohan said.
The organization builds schools in areas with little or no educational opportunities, she said.
Wednesday’s event, titled “Make a Scene, Cause a Commotion, Start a Movement,” hopes to encourage students and organizations to make a positive social impact on the University community, Mohan said.
“They can be anything you want, from giving away free candy to random people, to doing an upbeat flash mob with a positive message,” she said.
A video featuring students from Kansas State University performing random acts of kindness inspired the event, Parikh said.
“They bought someone’s books, they held doors open, they bought people’s lunch, and we thought we could do that here at Rutgers,” she said. “We have had a lot of hard times here after what happened to Eric LeGrand and Tyler Clementi, we need the love on campus.”
Mohan said the week would end on Thursday with a visit from Stewart Ramsey, one of the founders of Krochet Kids.
“This organization provides jobs to women in impoverished areas,” she said. “The proceeds from the sales of hats go back to their country.”
Parikh said she appreciates how Krochet Kids not only helps local communities, but also teaches women a useful skill they can profit from in the future.
“It’s really a great idea,” she said. “They teach these women skills that they can use in life and use to make their lives better in the future.”
Parikh said her class, “Social Innovation: The Business of Doing Good,” inspired her to organize “Changemakers Week.”
“We learned that you can start a business that uses its profits to do social good,” she said. “After having conversations about this with my adviser, Krista Kohlmann, she spoke to her colleague, Kristin Cothran, and ‘Changemakers Week’ was born.”
Parikh said University graduates could use a degree in any field to impact the world in a constructive way.
“Students who get degrees in business and law, for example, might not realize they can use it to do social good,” she said.
Kohlmann, program coordinator for Community Service for University Student Involvement, said even though SVC focuses on service in the community, events like “Changemakers Week” show students that service is not the only way to get involved.
Kohlmann said the organization’s objective is to get students involved and bring in inspirational speakers.
“We wanted to open students minds to the ways of change,” she said. “Service is the best way to get involved, but there are other ways to make a change.”
Parikh said she wants students to know that small acts can bear big changes.
“How many times have we been told, ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world,’ and then thought ‘I can’t change the world all by myself,’” she said. “But what if we believed instead ‘If I can do one thing to better the world, then I have changed it for the better.’”
Parikh said SVC plans to promote the week’s events by involving social media. Students are encouraged to tweet about the events using #RUChangemakers.