Red Hawks of all sorts flocked to the Student Center on Saturday morning to participate in the 2015 National Day of Service, an annual event which allows Montclair State University students to give back to the extended Montclair community through service projects.
The Volunteer Resource Center organized and ran the event with help from the Bonner Leaders Americorp Program, a group of select students on campus who dedicate their undergraduate careers to participating in community service activities.
After checking in at the Student Center Ballrooms, participants in the National Day of Service could sign up for one of 17 off-campus or on-campus service projects and collect their free event t-shirt.
Upon choosing an off-campus site, students boarded University-provided buses to make their way to their project, whether it was cleaning up a community garden, farm or public school, volunteering at a foodbank or distributing supplies at a charity walk. Those who preferred to stay on campus worked with others to complete projects like making sandwiches for soup kitchens, creating crafts for those in need to use and beautifying the campus.
Though the start of the event was a little disorganized, with many participants lined up in the small space of the Student Center lobby and technical difficulties making some announcements hard to hear, there was still an impressive turnout at this year’s National Day of Service.
“All the service sites filled up,” said senior Bonner Leader Emily Kearns, who was leading a campus beautification project, “and we actually had people coming when everything was full, so we had to add more positions into the sites.”
Senior Amara Higgins, another Bonner Leader who assisted participants in making greeting cards for the elderly, admitted that the event staff had faced challenges due to lack of supplies, but praised her peers for doing all they could to make the event run smoothly. “We always improvise. We always make sure that it happens,” Higgins said.
One feature of the event that the sisters of Delta Phi Epsilon were very happy about was the free t-shirts, which they used as work shirts while painting the borders of the Student Center Quad red. These students looked forward to the event as an opportunity for bonding with members of their sorority, and said, “[It’s] relaxing. We’re having fun [and] we’re out here for community service.”
Several other students cited service to the community as their major reason for participating in the event. “Helping others in the community is part of our organization,” said sophomore Kristina Martin, a member of the sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha who was helping to make sandwiches for Toni’s Kitchen, Eva’s Kitchen and St. John’s. “We joined because we felt that it was important to help the people in need. I don’t mind making sandwiches and taking the time out to actually do something that’s going to help benefit people when it comes to hunger and deprivation.”
Freshman Chelsea Bargan hoped to become more involved in the campus community by making gift tags for the Salvation Army. “I just like to volunteer. I want to get involved, be a part of Montclair and I love helping.”
Ashley Koehler, a junior and sister of Sigma Delta Tau, was working with Chelsea and expressed her desire to be more involved with community service as well. “I always say I want more opportunities to do community service,” Koehler said, “I personally think The Salvation Army is a wonderful thing. I always try to donate gifts to them, so I thought, ‘Why not see what they’re doing today?’”
One participant in particular stood out from the rest. Rocky the Red Hawk joined in the community service efforts and helped to make sandwiches, make bears for children out of scrap fabric and several other service projects before the day was out.