SVSU students donate time to non-profits during Service Day

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Twenty-five SVSU students donated their time to volunteer in the local community on Saturday, Sept. 16.

Service Day is a partnership between the Office of Student Life, Cardinal Volunteers and the Center for Community Engagement. Every year, Cardinal Volunteers go out and volunteer at different agencies to begin the semester. The event represented a kickoff for Cardinal Volunteers and also for Hispanic Heritage month. Students volunteered from 9 a.m. until noon at various local agencies.

“Today was a wonderful day to serve the community and celebrate Mexican Independence Day,” said Student Life Center Graduate Assistant Riley Hupfer.

Students met at the Center for Community Engagement before heading out to volunteer. Prior to leaving, Director of Multicultural Student Services Roberto Garcia spoke about the importance of Mexican Independence Day and Hispanic Heritage Month.

The 25 students were divided into five groups, and each group was responsible for going to a different location. The locations were: The Neighborhood House (Samaritas Community Center), Saginaw-Shiawassee Habitat for Humanity, Underground Railroad, The Mexican American Council and the Humane Society of Midland County.

Each agency offered a different experience. Students worked on a home, gathered items for a fundraiser, helped to organize a library and worked with shelter dogs that were flown into Midland the day before from areas affected by Hurricane Irma.

“It was great to see so many Cardinals come out on a Saturday morning to give back to our community in so many different ways,” said Associate Director of Student Life Jason Schoenmeyer.

The group volunteering at Saginaw-Shiawassee Habitat for Humanity was hard at work. A former construction worker supervised the team while they sanded doors to prepare them for paint, primed fascia board and installed siding. Speed was key with a three-hour time slot, but the quality of work was not diminished. The projects weren’t completely finished, but an afternoon team had planned on coming in to finish the projects that had been started.

“It was incredible to see a group of people from different backgrounds work together toward a common goal,” said fourth-year mechanical engineering student Nathan Binder, who was part of the group at Habitat for Humanity. “Nobody was forced to be there, so each person was willing to work hard, and morale was high.”

When Garcia found out about Service Day’s cause and realized that it was occurring on Mexican Independence Day, he was excited about the possibilities. He then reached out to the Latino Awareness Association, an on-campus RSO, and a partnership was formed in order to volunteer and give back to the community with a focus on Latino organizations.

“We are very fortunate to have students on campus willing to volunteer for this event, and the ability for it to come together on Mexican Independence Day was special,” Garcia said. “We were able to work together to make a difference in the community.”

This was the first time in university history that volunteer community engagement had a connection to Hispanic Heritage month and Mexican Independence Day. First-generation students from Mexico were provided with a chance to volunteer, which made the day especially unique. The group that went to the Mexican American Council helped clean out the building, a task that would have taken the one-man crew hours but instead was tackled in less than three hours with the help of volunteers. Many students will more than likely continue to be involved in the Mexican American Council and were provided with the chance to come back and volunteer whenever necessary.

“They don’t do it for the look of it, but they do it because they really care about giving back to the community,” Garcia said.