FGCU Freshman Karoline Tyrell likes to make people smile. It’s one of the main reasons she enjoys performing community service.
And it’s what motivated her to form the new student organization, FGCU Give Back, a group devoted to making others smile by providing community service.
To Tyrell, it’s more than fulfilling the 80 hours of service required by FGCU students.
“Our members are people with large hearts who truly care about the community and want to help others,” she says.
As a volunteer lifeguard at Sanibel Sea School, Tyrell loved seeing the joy experienced by children participating in the program. That experience was a motivating factor in her decision to form the group.
“These students are doing a great job of organizing service to the community,” says Heather Humann, an FGCU literature instructor and the group’s advisor. “Particularly with everything going on with COVID, I think it’s admirable how these young adults want to make a difference in the community.”
More than 125 people joined in the first month.
“I think that this club could serve as an example to future service clubs to remind others that there are always people who want to do good,” Tyrell says. “The mere fact that it makes people smile seeing others smile is enough for some to consider joining.”
Tyrell’s intentions inspired her fellow sailing club members, including Landen Bold. The freshman resort and hospitality management student joined after Tyrell invited him to become the event coordinator.
“When I first came to campus, I was not looking at being on many executive boards,” he says. “Then Karoline came to me with the idea of Give Back. I believed in what the club was about and decided to take a chance with it. I knew it would be a lot of work, but I was up for the challenge to make a difference around FGCU’s campus.”
Bold said he wants to make a difference because he is living in this community and wants to help make it a better place.
“I believe that if I could make a difference, even if it is small, that the community would be one step closer to becoming the best community it could be for future generations,” Bold said.
Give Back held its first major event – a beach cleanup – on February 21 at Crescent Beach Park. It was co-hosted by FGCU Sailing Club, with 11 members working for 3 hours to clean up the Fort Myers Beach park.
The group planned to gear up in March, working with Blessings in a Backpack, which feeds children on the weekends when they might not have enough to eat, and writing letters to nursing home residents. They hope to team up with CREW Land & Water Trust in Immokalee to clean up the lakes and trails and to help out at the Harry Chapin Food Bank.
Activities touch on many community needs, which appeals to member James McGirr, a freshman entrepreneurship student, who views helping others as one of the best callings in life.
“A lot of people associate college students with being self-centered,” he says. “It’s kind of like a stereotype breaker. This proves that college students have the want to help others less fortunate and want to help because it’s the right thing to do.”
– Student contributor Tyler Watkins is a junior majoring in journalism.