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Students volunteer through Circle K

Melissa Flanagan | Sunday, January 23, 2011

With 20 different volunteer opportunities, some students might not be able to decide how to get involved in Circle K, Notre Dame’s largest student-run service organization. Senior Annette Esquibel could easily recommend a project.

“I’ve done every project we do,” Esquibel said. “I love how many opportunities you have to do service.”

Circle K started the second semester with a fun-filled meeting Sunday night that included free candy and T-shirt giveaways. The club’s 10 officers also described the 20 organizations that Circle K works with. The projects range from taking care of dogs with the Humane Society to reading with children in the South Bend school system.

“My favorite is probably the Juvenile Justice Center,” Esquibel said. “You tutor teens in the correctional facility. It’s just good to see them trying to start over.”

The club, which meets Sunday nights in the Notre Dame Room of LaFortune, currently has 96 registered members. President Mathew Dominguez said the club’s impressive roster is probably due to the diversity of the projects.

“I think it’s popular because of the variety of projects that we offer,” Dominguez said. “We try to make sure there’s a type of project for every type of person.”

Circle K is a branch of Kiwanis, a global volunteer organization. Dominguez and Esquibel both joined Circle K because of their previous involvement with Key Club, the high school branch of Kiwanis.

Dominguez, who has been involved with Circle K since his freshman year, said his favorite project is Nursing Home Bingo.

“It’s really fun to work with the elderly and talk with them while they’re playing,” Dominguez said. “They’re always very interested in how your life is.”

Junior Jessica Choi’s preferred project has changed since she joined Circle K last year. Choi said she initially became interested in Circle K when she heard of the Center for the Homeless project, but now her favorite activity is visiting St. Mary’s Convent.

“You visit and talk with nuns and it’s a lot of fun,” Choi said. “They love to hear what stories you have and they love to tell you stories too.”

Many students attended the Circle K meeting for the first time, hoping to find a project they enjoy that fits their schedule.

Sophomore Elizabeth Maurath said she is looking forward to getting involved in the club.

“I need another activity and I thought volunteering would be a good way to involve myself,” Maurath said. “It’s a good use of my time.”

Maurath hopes to tutor children in elementary school through the program. On the other hand, sophomore Alexis Casaceli is looking forward to working with the elderly at Queen of Peace, a section of St. Mary’s Convent for nuns with Alzheimer’s.

“It’s really touching to interact with the nuns there,” Casaceli said. “I was only able to go for the first half of last semester, but it was always my favorite activity of the week.”