GiveCamp Gives IT to Non-Profits

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On the weekend of Friday, March 30, GiveCamp was held on the first floor of Schaefer Hall at the College. Starting three years ago, GiveCamp has been held annually at St. Mary’s every spring. Students at the college, along with professional software developers, create websites for local non-profit organizations for free.

“I found out about it via Twitter,” said southern Maryland GiveCamp chapter founder Jim Pendravis. Attending this year’s GiveCamp were software developers, some with 20 or more years of experience, along with junior and senior developers and Computer Science majors. Approximately 60 technical volunteers were in attendance, working to make websites for 17 non-profit organizations.

“We have yet to turn away a non-profit,” said Pendravis. Non-profit organizations apply to be a part of GiveCamp in November and December. However, because of a lack of funds, the amount of organizations may need to be no higher than ten next year.

Volunteers this year have come from as far as Roanoke and Richmond in Virginia, along with Philadelphia. In the past, volunteers have come from as far as Pittsburgh, New England, and Raleigh. “The reason they come here is because we were the first on the east coast,” stated Pendravis.

“When we started this three years ago, there were only eight in the U.S.,” he continued. Now, GiveCamp occurs in 50 different areas internationally, including the United Kingdom, Australia, South America, and one may even be starting in France.

“Local organizations don’t have an IT budget,” said Pendravis. GiveCamp creates websites for these organizations so they don’t have to use money they have raised to pay developers to do it. “We just do it for them free of charge.”

Kevin Seeger, ’11, a current entry level developer, returned to St. Mary’s to help out at GiveCamp for the first time this year. “[Jim Pendravis] asked me to help out,” said Seeger. “I didn’t [help out] last year, but I should’ve.”

Seeger was working on a team with other current St. Mary’s students to create websites for AARP Tax Aide and the Lexington Park Lion’s Club.

Working with Seeger was Computer Science major and junior Alex Roca. “Web development isn’t actually something I’ve covered a lot in class so this is a new experience for me,” he said.

“This is my first year doing GiveCamp,” Roca continued. “It sounded really interesting and I’m glad that I’m able to do it this year. It’s a lot of fun. You get to meet a lot of nice people. It’s a great collaborative effort.”

“I’m the school’s point of contact for GiveCamp,” said Alan Jamieson, Assistant Professor of Computer Science. He made sure that St. Mary’s Public Safety knew that GiveCamp volunteers would be working in Schaefer over the weekend, some staying overnight. “I make sure all our ducks are in a row, so to speak.”

“It’s a great thing the college does to help the community as a whole,” said Jamieson. “We can provide our services free of charge. It’s pretty much a win-win all around.”

Some of the organizations funding GiveCamp this year were Avian Engineering, Precise Systems, Zekiah Technology, Component One, and Apex Systems.

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