The day, which is sponsored by the College’s new Office of Civic Engagement and Scholarship (OCES), challenges student organizations to spend a day serving the local community with various partner organizations, including the Jamestown/Yorktown Foundation, Salvation Army, Jamestown 4H and York River State Park.
This year, approximately 15 student groups and organizations signed up to participate in Make a Difference Day. Additionally, two alumni groups volunteered to help out, including, for the first time, the Hundred Acre Wood association. That group is responsible for funding the Sharpe Community Scholars’ summer service grants.
For the first time this year, the day included an educational component. Participants read information on the organizations and issues they were serving and then spent time with their site leaders reflecting on what they had learned and accomplished. This new component was added to align the day of service with the mission of OCES, said Allison Anoll ‘09, VISTA for student and community engagement for OCES.
OCES was created earlier this year by merging William & Mary’s two main service programs: The Sharpe Community Scholars program and the Office of Student Volunteer Services. The new office aims to integrate learning and research with service projects such as Make a Difference Day.
“With over 200 students, two groups of alumni, and 13 different community partners, Make a Difference Day was a huge success,” Anoll said. “Helping it line up with the mission of the new office (OCES), Make a Difference day for the first time combined students' day of service with issue education and reflection on topics ranging from poverty to biodiversity.”
Shannon Michel ‘12 and Stephanie McGuire ‘12 served as co-leaders for the group that volunteered with the Community Action Agency. Though the group had originally planned on doing yard work, the weather forced them inside where they ended up cleaning and organizing offices and compiling a student directory. The group also learned a lot of about the agency’s programs and how they could help out in the future.
“It was very successful and I feel like we accomplished a lot and really helped out the agency staff,” said Michel.