220 W&M students spend the day serving| August 25, 2009
It was a different mix of people at the Blayton Building's BINGO game on Tuesday afternoon. Along with the "regulars" - senior citizens who live at the building - a handful of William & Mary students were scattered throughout the room, chatting, laughing and even engaging in a little friendly competition as they all waited for the next letter and number combination to be called.
"It's been pretty fun just chatting and hearing about their lives and where they're from - just normal conversation," said Tamisha Williams, a second-year master's degree student in the School of Education and a graduate assistant in the Office of Community Engagement and Scholarship (OCES). "It's something I could see myself coming back and doing again."
Williams was one of about 220 William & Mary students who participated in the Office of Community Engagement and Scholarship's annual Students Helping Out Williamsburg (SHOW) Day today. SHOW Day is an opportunity for new William & Mary students to volunteer with community agencies and nonprofit organizations. Not only to lend a hand but also learn a little about their new community in the process.
"I'm really excited to be here and be a part of SHOW Day," said Aaron Barksdale, a William & Mary freshman who helped with the BINGO game. "When I heard about the program, I was very enthusiastic about participating. I love community service. I was a part of it in high school, so it's definitely something I'll end up bringing to the William & Mary community and to the Williamsburg community at large."
This year's SHOW Day, which saw a 10 percent increase in participants from last year, started with a lunch at the Campus Center's Trinkle Hall. Melody Porter, assistant director of the OCES, greeted students and told them that would be just the first step in achieving their service goals. Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler also spoke to the students, saying that the "culture of service at William & Mary is something of which we're very proud."
"I hope you have a joyous afternoon," she said.
Along with visiting the residents of the Blayton Building, this year's SHOW Day participants also did painting and yard work for Housing Partnerships, cleaned barns and pastures for Dream Catchers, helped teachers set up classrooms at Head Start, posted sustainability tips around campus for the Committee on Sustainability, and gleaned food from local farms to be used in the Campus Kitchen among other things.
Freshmen Joanna Beletic and Ben Chalfin were among the group of students who spent the day helping Head Start teachers prepare their classrooms for the school year.
"I thought it would be a great way to meet people and I also want to get involved in community service at college so I thought why not start off with it," said Beletic.
Chalfin said he also signed up in part to meet new people.
"And I really want to volunteer and help out the community since we're going to be living here for four years at least," he said.
Seniors Mallory Johnson and Amanda Potter led the group of students who posted signs promoting conversation and sustainability around campus for the Committee on Sustainability.
Johnson said that SHOW Day is a great way for new students to find out what community service efforts they can get involved in.
"I think the opportunity for incoming students to immediately partake in service is really great because then they can kind of get an idea of what's available to them after they finish orientation and what organizations are available to them," she said. "If they want to go internationally, nationally, or regionally, there are so many options."
Potter added that it was more than just one day of service.
"I think it's about developing habits for the new students who come in," she said. "So if they start service now and also specifically with this project, if they start the habit of thinking about conservation and thinking about sustainability on campus and how they can do that here and how it's really easy and even encourage that in other people, I think that's something that they can take forward throughout the four years and then beyond that. It's about developing habits for a lifetime."