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ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Aggie creates service opportunities for businesses and volunteers

On March 17, 2014

The Cache Valley Volunteer Center launched a the Community Donation Clearinghouse at the end of February in an attempt to increase effectiveness between local service organizations.

The clearinghouse is Shayla Thompson’s capstone project. As a USU Service-Learning Scholar, she contributes at least 400 hours of community service, including her final project to leave a legacy for the community.

Thompson said the idea to work on the project came after working with various service organizations and seeing a need for greater efficiency between service groups and businesses. As a mentor for at-risk youth in local high schools, she helped organize fundraisers and activities.

“They had a hard time getting materials or finding places to help them with whatever projects they had going for them,” she said. “When I was in the program we did a fundraiser, but they didn’t know where to go or how to get the donations, so we’re hoping that it will help them save the time.”

The project is a way for service groups and local businesses to keep in contact.

“It’s a middleman between local businesses who continually get calls for donations and community organizations who make those calls,” Thompson said. “A lot of times materials get wasted because at the moment, the business has excess but doesn’t have someone to give it to.

“One of my main goals is to conserve materials. The Cache Valley Volunteer Center will take all of the donations that are given and house them, so that way we can conserve materials and also save time for those that are making requests. That way, service organizations can take advantage of services that are available.”

Sharilee Griffiths, director of the Cache Valley Volunteer Center, hopes the clearinghouse will make it easier for service organizations to receive assistance from local businesses and the community.

“I hope they will all know where they can take that so that the when an organization needs something, they know where to come and get it,” Griffiths said. “If they have a volunteer appreciation event or a big activity where they need donations, rather than having to go out to 20 different businesses to ask for donations, they can know that they can just go to the Community Donation Clearinghouse and receive the help they need.”

To prepare the project, Thompson sent surveys to local businesses to gauge how many wanted to contribute. The project has almost 700 business owners who have offered help.

Griffiths has wanted this project done for a while and said Thompson made it possible.

“I’m kind of a one-man show at this point in running the volunteer, so I haven’t had time to actually pull it together,” Griffiths said. “I’ve worked with a couple of different people in getting it started, and Shayla has taken the little pieces of what they have done and has really worked to put them together.”

Businesses can donate materials they would otherwise throw away, like boxes. But opportunities to donate aren’t limited to materials.

“We called some and talked to them about being able to donate things like informational classes,” she said. “Maybe you have a Boy Scout group that wants to go to Autozone and have a free class.”

Thompson said donating to the project can benefit the businesses as well.

“They can get tax write-offs and word-of-mouth advertising and all the great benefits of helping the community,” Thompson said.

Those interested in contributing or finding more information can visit cachevolunteercenter.org/community-donation-clearinghouse/.

bradley.s.robinson12@gmail.com

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