Following the fall 2007 VT-ENGAGE kickoff event on Oct. 16, Virginia Tech students, faculty, staff, family, and friends have pledged to perform more than 150,000 hours of community service prior to the university’s May 2008 graduation.

The VT-ENGAGE mission is to encourage individuals and groups from all areas and walks of life to dedicate time and talents to volunteer work in – and beyond – their local communities.

At Virginia Tech all students, faculty, and staff are being asked to perform at least 10 hours of service before the end of the 2008 spring semester for a combined total of 300,000 service hours. Virginia Tech alumni have agreed to match this goal. Several colleges, universities, and public schools have joined the VT-ENGAGE initiative to honor the victims of April 16 and to give back to the community.

Susquehanna University has committed the volunteer hours of two service-learning programs to honor those lost at Virginia Tech in spring 2007. Twenty-seven members of the Susquehanna University Central America Service Adventure team spent part of their winter break serving in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, while 60 other students will work on alternating Hurricane Response Teams whose efforts will aid the continuing recovery work along the Gulf Coast. Mark Radecke, chaplain, said in union with Susquehanna University President L. Jay Lemons, “We consider it a privilege to join you in this tribute.”

Administrators, faculty, staff and students at Virginia Highlands Community College joined with Virginia Tech on Oct. 16, 2007, in registering and making pledges, followed by an intensive three-day cleanup and beautification effort on their campus. Participants dug and planted new flowerbeds, created attractive seating areas, and otherwise contributed to the renewal of campus grounds. Although online pledges are impossible to track by source, many individuals contributed numerous hours to the project.

Southwest Virginia Community College held a kickoff event on Nov. 16, with students and college personnel pledging over 5,800 hours of service to date. Several public schools have also added contributors. Lebanon High School clubs and organizations have reported over 100 individuals making online pledges, and two schools in Tazewell County are also participating.

To sign up current or plan volunteer hours for VT-ENGAGE, go to and click on the “Pledge/update your service hours.” First-time visitors to the website need to create a new account with a user identification and password, since the VT-ENGAGE website does not link to the Virginia Tech identity system to maintain privacy. Once you have an account, select the tab to pledge your hours. Then select the tab to record your service. You can count volunteer work that you normally do or new volunteer service. You do not need to disclose the organization for which you volunteer.

For more information about VT-ENGAGE and how you, your friends, your community, or your favorite service organization can get involved; contact Karen Gilbert, coordinator, at (540) 231-0691 or e-mail

Photo caption: Faculty, staff, and students at Virginia Highlands Community College joined in Virginia Tech’s VT-ENGAGE volunteerism initiative, cleaning up and landscaping their Abingdon campus in the process last fall. VHCC counted 61 volunteers over three days. During its first year, VT-ENGAGE honors those lost at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007, through community service.

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