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Community Service Day draws students to volunteer
October 13, 1998

Ghouls, goblins, and UConn students were guests October 3 at the Mansfield Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation. The students were helping residents craft Halloween decorations as part of Community Service Day, a campus-wide event aimed at introducing students to volunteer experiences.

"Working with (senior citizens) makes them feel good about themselves. It's rewarding to see their faces light up when you walk in," said Cara Britton, a third-semester business major. Britton was one of about 80 students who participated in the third annual service day, an event organized by the Center for Community Outreach.

Volunteers could choose to give their time to one of 12 projects. Some students set out with brushes and rollers to give the Covenant Soup Kitchen in Willimantic a fresh look, while others blazed trails and painted signs at the Goodwin Conservation Center in Chaplin.

A new project that proved popular was the campus-wide cleanup. Participants "snagged and bagged" litter around the Student Union and Mirror Lake, said John Smedick, a first-semester history major and member of the 11-person cleanup crew. "This was a way for students to show we care about the University and the community," he said.

Ryan Griswold, program coordinator for the Center for Community Outreach, said most of the volunteers were freshmen and were first-time participants. He said the high number of freshmen participating was probably a result of the First Year Experience program, which orients students to the campus and promotes student involvement in co-curricular activities.

Community Service Day is a chance for students to explore the many volunteer opportunities available to them.

"We offer a wide variety of projects, so students can try something new," said Diane Wright, director of the Center for Community Outreach. She added that, after participating in the service projects, many students want to get more involved and make a commitment to volunteering on a regular basis.

Jennifer Ridder