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UL Student Volunteer Sarah Talty


It’s a strange time right now, trying to finish out the college year at home. Everyone is trying to feel more connected to others and you can feel a real sense of community spirit, whether it’s a smile as you move out to social distance from someone on your walk or hearing uplifting news stories. Something that can really lift your spirits in this time is giving back and this is something the University of Limerick has always been keen to recognise, awarding their President Volunteer Award to hundreds of UL students every year.

I was awarded a Bronze President Volunteer Award from UL in 2018 for my volunteer work in my final year of my undergrad at UL. It’s a great achievement to have and something that appears on your transcript and you can add to your CV.

I thought a PVA during my masters at UL this year wouldn’t be possible as I was so busy with college work and commuting. So I was delighted to hear that UL are now recognising their students efforts to give back in this challenging time, by introducing a special Covid-19 PVA. There are no minimum hour requirements, unlike the normal PVA where you qualify for different levels of the award based on your volunteer hours. The Covid-19 PVA will also appear on your transcript and you can add it to your CV and who knows, it could be a great talking point in your dream job interview discussing how you tried to make a small difference in this challenging time.

During the lockdown, I participated in the social media 5k. It’s a challenge that’s been taking place on social media, where you run 5k, nominate 5 friends on your social media to do the same and donate €5 to a charity. I decided to donate to the Irish Cancer Society. The Irish Cancer Society is a charity that have meant a lot to me and I was delighted to be able to give back. I also put a link on my story for others to donate as their Daffodil fundraiser was cancelled due to Covid-19. You can add a charity donation button to your stories on Instagram, to allow your friends to donate directly to the charity from your stories. People are also donating to Do It For Dan, who have just passed their fundraising goal. We might not have too much to give at this time but every little helps.

You also don’t need to wait to be nominated before doing your bit for charity. You can donate to charities at any time and a charitable spirit doesn’t always have to be about donating your money. You can donate your time. It can be something as simple as checking in with an elderly neighbour and seeing if they need you to do some shopping for them.

I am also volunteering with Team Hope, by starting my Christmas shoebox now. People are using this time to sort out clutter in their house and you may find clothes and toys you no longer have use for and you wish to donate. Team Hope are encouraging people to put these aside now for their Christmas shoeboxes. They are also asking people to knit toys and bags for children’s shoeboxes and provide the knitting patterns to do so.

The lockdown is tough on everyone and it has been difficult to try to finish my masters remotely, working on group assignments and doing exams from home. However, it’s a great sense of achievement to do something like this. I also had never run 5k in my life so it was something new for me. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and was something I really enjoyed. It was also a fun way to feel more connected to people in this weird time. It’s normal to feel down and stressed trying to finish the college year in these circumstances. Doing something for somebody else can really boost your spirits. We all have a bit more free time on our hands and it will be great to look back and realise we used this time to help make a difference.

By Sarah Talty​​​​​​​

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