Leadership and Volunteer Center makes Halloween activity kits for underprivileged children


Maggie Willard

A variety of volunteer opportunities exist on campus — last week, students were able to make Halloween kits for underprivileged students in the area.

Oakland University’s Leadership and Volunteer Center held a volunteer opportunity on Wednesday, Oct. 27  for all OU students and faculty to assemble Halloween activity kits for local, underprivileged students who may not have access to holiday opportunities.

The event was put together by Daryl Blackburn, coordinator of Leadership and Service Programs, and Emily Bernas, graduate assistant of Leadership and Service Programs. Blackburn and Bernas partnered with Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency (OLHSA), a non-profit community action agency based in Pontiac, to produce Halloween-themed activity kits for elementary school students in the area. OLHSA has a jumpstart program specific to elementary-age students that provide necessities and learning opportunities for them as they grow. The kits contained items such as candy, handmade coloring books and crayons, reusable Halloween cups, rings and temporary tattoos.

Both Blackburn and Bernas hope to make a positive impact on the community by arranging creative service opportunities that provide things they know outside organizations such as OLHSA may be in need of.

“What we try to do is really think outside the box and figure out how we can make something that’s going to make someone’s day or make something that’s easily accessible for someone who may not have that accessibility before we give it to them,” Blackburn said. This was the organization’s first Halloween activity kit-making event but typically offers several holiday service projects to aid those in need while still appealing to the volunteers.

Blackburn emphasizes the learning aspect that stems from volunteer opportunities and how students and faculty members are able to take their experiences with them in the future.

“To give people that opportunity to have a good time, to do a service project, whether it be something big or small, but taking that and being able to relate it back to how they’re giving back to the community in some way that adds an aspect of learning,” he said.

Several students attended the kit-making to obtain service hours and expand the reach of the event’s community impact by offering their time. Kayla P., senior, said that participating in volunteer events is a great way to meet new people. Another student participant said she decided to volunteer because of her love for the holiday, saying, “I’m just here for fun — I just really like Halloween and thought this would be a fun thing to do.”

Like most campus events, student participation in service projects can be key to the level of community impact.

“The more volunteers we have, the bigger impact we can have on the community as a whole,” Blackburn said.

Not only do these opportunities provide support for the community, but they can also serve as a way for students to engage with each other and expand their social circle.

“They’re making friends from it, it’s a good social experience,” Bernas said, “A lot of people will say, ‘Oh, this is so nice, it was a good escape from my everyday life.’ It’s so beneficial to do service not only for the people you’re helping but for yourself in general.”

The Leadership and Volunteer Center offers a variety of opportunities for students to participate in service projects with varying times and dates for more accessibility. The Office for Student Involvement announces volunteer opportunities through their Instagram page and displays flyers around campus for any students or faculty members who are interested or seeking these opportunities.