“Come Cuddle Canines” invites Southern Miss students to pursue volunteer opportunities


Southern Miss students gathering in the Luckyday Breezeway on Thursday, Jan. 20 for “Come Cuddle Canines” met two friendly fluffballs with an important mission- to sniff out new friends and recruit volunteers for Hub City Humane Society.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., students and community members were treated to snuggles and kisses from Waffles and Pancakes, two shepherd-mix puppies, as Hub City Humane Society’s volunteers handed out flyers and discussed the organization’s community service opportunities with event participants.

Several on-campus organizations, including Sigma Alpha Lambda, the USM Association of Office Professionals and The Wesley Foundation, also attended to raise visibility and awareness to community service needs and volunteer opportunities available with Hub City Humane Society and other partners throughout the Hattiesburg area. 

Jennifer Lewis, the president of Sigma Alpha Lambda and Community Service Chair for the USM Association of Office Professionals, handed flyers to passing students while cuddling Waffles. Lewis also serves as a board member for The Wesley Foundation, and she said all three organizations partnered to highlight the volunteer needs of local organizations like Hub City Humane Society.

“Hub City Humane needs donations, volunteers and sharing on social media as well,” Lewis said. “There’s a lot of needs and a lot of dogs.”

Lewis hopes students and community members leave the event with information on where to go when looking for volunteer opportunities through USM. 

“All of us are united in our goal of highlighting the needs for civic engagement by students and community members, especially in these perilous times where there’s so many challenges to people individually,” Lewis said.  

Sigma Alpha Lambda’s secretary Rachel Brown, a library and information sciences major, held Waffles and Pancakes while chatting with students about volunteer opportunities.

“We’re trying to boost that feeling of comradery and community,” Brown said. “Have everyone have a great start to the semester.”

Brown thinks students will appreciate having interactive displays this semester, especially when they involve holding puppies. 

She also believes students will recognize the benefits of meeting in person for events after several semesters of virtual interactions. 

“With COVID, we haven’t been able to have a lot of interaction with people, so just getting out there and meeting new faces is really going to help set the tone going forward in the semester,” Brown said.

Despite chilly temperatures and rainy skies, groups of students stopped to participate in the event and collect their cuddles from Waffles and Pancakes.

Bundled in blankets to protect against the wind and rain, the puppies passed from person to person, receiving an abundance of pampering and hugs.

Taking place on the second day of the spring semester, Come Cuddle Canines also aimed to help students destress and start the school year strong and Art major Peaches Ballentine thinks it achieved its goal.

 “It’s an amazing start,” Ballentine said.