Service Sunday draws students to volunteer

by Lizzie Norgard

Graciously forgoing the IM football games, over 30 students took part in youth-themed service projects at Green Park Elementary and the YMCA last Sunday.

Several of the students met at Reid at noon on Sept. 24 to help re-paint a map of the United States on the playground at Green Park, while another group departed to the YMCA to volunteer at Family Fun Day, a United Way-sponsored event involving games and crafts for kids.

Led by Tricia Haley, the community outreach projects coordinator for the Center for Community Service, six of the volunteers helped re-paint the Green Park map. Each volunteer took charge of a color and covered the faded, chipping states with bright new coats of red, green, yellow and blue, careful not to trap one another between wet Midwestern states.

Several volunteers said that they took part in the project to get outside and have fun.

Rebecca Sickels, coordinator at the Center for Community Service, said that Whitman students have been re-painting the map annually for the past four or five years. The project has become so regular that the Center for Community Service does not notify Green Park before coming.

“We’re like painting elves,” said Haley. “People just come to school and find the map repainted.”

Meanwhile at the YMCA, approximately 25 students manned booths and played games with kids at Family Fun Day. The volunteers arrived just after noon to help set up tables, tents and games, and the games began at 1:00. The day was divided into two shifts, with about a dozen volunteers on each shift.

After setting up, volunteers helped kids and their families sign up for games such as the three-legged race, sack race, balloon toss, and Frisbee and softball throw. Volunteers also manned craft booths, a lemonade stand and a line for a bouncy castle. Some also got their hands and feet wet playing such games as the water balloon toss with the kids.

When asked how volunteers for the youth-themed service Sunday projects were recruited, Sickels said that in addition to student listserv e-mails and flyers posted around campus, she also posted a flyer on Facebook. Sickels decided this year to advertise on Facebook in the hope of reaching more students. She said that the number of students volunteering for the projects organized by the Center has been decreasing over the past few years.

Referring to sign-up lists for weekend projects, Sickels said, “We used to be full by Wednesday, and now we barely fill.” Thinking at first that the events needed to be better communicated to students, she began advertising them on Facebook, but she has yet to see this change affect the number of volunteers.

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