Magazine article Insight on the News

Do We Need This Bribe to Volunteer?

Magazine article Insight on the News

Do We Need This Bribe to Volunteer?

Article excerpt

Now that Congress has approved spending $1.5 billion over three years for President Clinton's new national service program, one has to ask why.

Clinton says the purpose is to "build the American community" and "reward individual responsibility" but we don't need a costly new federal program to accomplish these goals.

Thousands of community service opportunities already exist for anyone interested in volunteering, and hundreds of thousands of students - probably millions - generously give their time each year, without financial incentives.

Besides, other national service programs already exist: the 30-year-old Peace Corps, for example, and VISTA, or Volunteers in Service to America. Known as the domestic Peace Corps, VISTA has been around for more than 25 years.

Clinton, who acts as if he hasn't heard of VISTA, promoted the national service program as a way to build the American community through a new domestic Peace Corps that brings Americans together to tackle pressing national problems." But do Americans really need the federal government to bring them together to care for and help one another?

It certainly wasn't the federal government that brought the citizens of Missouri, Illinois and Iowa together this summer to fight the ravages of flooding. On Aug. 3, the salvation Army reported that in the St. Louis area alone, volunteers had spent more than 143,000 man-hours stacking 13.25 million sandbags.

Americans, especially college students, do not need to be taught the importance of public service. As president of the Gamma Beta Chapter of the Delta Delta Delta sorority at Villanova University in Villanova, Pa., I have witnessed innumerable acts of voluntary kindness - none of which required a government bribe.

Meghan McKeever of Tri-Delta, for example, asked our chapter to help in a bone marrow tissue drive. Her father, John L. McKeever, had started the Children to Benefit the Children Committee, or CBC, after leukemia was diagnosed in his son. McKeever's original intention was modest: to help the underfunded hematology-oncology unit at St. Christopher's Hospital in Philadelphia. Since then, the program has grown into an 800-volunteer operation.

When an anonymous donor gave $60,000, the CBC and Tri-Delta members organized a bone marrow drive in the Philadelphia area. Together with the CBC's Kathleen Bowes, the Tri-Deltas passed out fliers and collected more donations. …

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