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Class of '92 joins Public Center in service drive

By Joanna Stone

In an effort to "get the MIT community more involved with the community of Boston," the Class of 1992 and the Center for Public Service at MIT are organizing a "Community Service Drive" over the next several weeks, according to Christine Ma '92, a coordinator for the Center.

The Center will have a booth in Lobby 10 weekdays from 10 am to 4 pm during the weeks before and after spring break. Booth workers will provide a sign-up sheet for all those who are interested in donating time for public service. People will be asked to give not only their names, addresses and phone numbers, but also their areas of interest and the age-range they'd most prefer to work with.

To members of the Class of 1992, the booth will also hand out pledges -- signed cards stating that the signee pledges two hours of service to the institution of his or her choice. These pledges are not binding, but Ma hopes that they will serve as a further incentive for students to volunteer their time.

Although the drive has been organized by the Class of 1992, it is for everyone, including graduate students and faculty members, Class of 1992 President Aileen Lee said. The time commitment for the average volunteer would vary, she added.

Virginia Sorenson, who currently works out of the Technology Community Association office, runs the Center for Public Service. Last year Sorenson distributed a survey on the topic of community service and contacted many public service organizations to ascertain the level of interest in such a program.

Matt Turner, who also works in the TCA office, will initially be taking volunteers to their jobs at the designated organizations. Sorenson, however, will not be getting personally involved. According to Ma, "She's officially the lady-in-charge, and she's there if we have any questions, but for the most part she'll let us [Ma and Lee] run the drive."

"We have broken the available public service jobs down into five categories: education, medical, hunger, underprivileged youth, and the homeless. We have several coordinators for each category, although we could use one more for medical and one more for hunger," according to Ma.

"We feel that there are many MIT students who would really like to serve their community but don't really know how to. We're willing to do the first steps for them -- finding a needy organization to be set up with the willing volunteer. All they have to do is put in the time and work," Lee said. "We hope that in taking the initiative for them, MIT students' involvement in community service will increase," she added.

"Although we sometimes forget, we, at MIT, are the advantaged. The organizations the Center deals with are some of the neediest and most disadvantaged people in the country. It's more than just charity by choice, it's our obligation to help out," Ma said.