GV students make a difference
Make A Difference Day brings together more 350 people
More than 350 volunteers from Grand Valley State University participated in the nation’s largest day of community service on Oct. 26 as they contributed to improve the greater Grand Rapids community.
“Having so many of our students volunteering their time and energy as a part of Make a Difference Day demonstrates that GVSU is not just an institution of higher education that happens to be based in Western Michigan, but that we are an interested and engaged part of this community,” said Jeff Mutch, coordinator of GVSU’s Community Service Learning Center, which hosted the day of service.
The event not only gives students a chance to give back to the community, but it also allows for a partnership between nonprofit and community agencies to learn more about the needs in the community. The work might also transfer into future opportunities for GVSU graduates.
“It provides GVSU students with an opportunity to learn about the communities to which they belong through a structured service learning experience designed to get them thinking about their own role as an active citizen,” Mutch said.
Last year, more than 300 GVSU volunteers served various local agencies during the Make a Difference Day. Volunteer work for the service event varies from clean-ups and aesthetic city improvements to working with youths or senior citizens.
“The goal is to help better our community and improve the lives of others,” said Laura Mernen, the event’s coordinator. “Our office would love to spark student’s interests to take a more active role to positively impact their community.”
Student volunteers met Saturday at GVSU where alumna Jenny Jordan, the developmental coordinator for Kid’s Food Basket, gave an opening statement for the day. During this time, students who registered with their groups or as an individual were assigned their volunteer positions and were bussed to various sites throughout the greater Grand Rapids area to work on community service projects until the afternoon.
One of the many groups that participated in this year’s event was assigned to Johnson Park, where students cleared weeds and trees along the edges of the nature trails.
“It was great to get out and help the surrounding area to be the best it can be,” said Abby Brewer, a freshman at GVSU. “Though this was just a small contribution, it did, in fact, make a difference and just goes to show the things you can achieve when you come together as a group to enhance the world that surrounds you.”
Make a Difference Day has taken place nationally for more than 20 years and is sponsored by USA Weekend magazine and Points of Light, an international organization focused on volunteerism and creating change.
“Groups all around the nation participated in this day of service,” Mernen said. “Grand Valley takes pride in being a part of this and doing our part in helping out the community.”