Hundreds of freshman participate in day of service

Hundreds of freshman participate in day of service

In an effort to give back to the local community, hundreds of students from The University of Alabama participated in various volunteer projects throughout Tuscaloosa county on Saturday. 

Ripple Effect, named for its far reaching impact on the surrounding area, is an annual day of service hosted by the Center for Service and Leadership (CSL). 

The service event provides Alabama students, mostly freshmen, with an early opportunity to form deep-rooted connections with the Tuscaloosa community. The Alabama students who participated in Ripple Effect were spread out over nine different project sites, including several elementary schools, The University of Alabama Arboretum, and Habitat for Humanity. At these sites, student volunteers performed a variety of tasks, from beautification projects to trail upkeep. Following their completion, the student volunteers returned to campus for a lunch with University of Alabama President Stuart Bell. Placing a large emphasis on the importance of service to the college experience, President Bell praised the students for their dedication to community outreach and challenged them to continue to serve their adopted community during the school year. 

For students like Kevin Hascher, who are new to the Tuscaloosa area, Ripple Effect is one of the first chances they have to interact with the community that they will be calling home for the next four years. Hascher, a freshman majoring in biology, spent his time performing much needed maintenance on vegetable gardens at a local elementary school. According to Hascher, Ripple Effect opened his eyes to the pressing need for volunteer work in Tuscaloosa elementary schools. 

“I never really knew much about the Tuscaloosa community, but by traveling to different elementary schools I saw the state they were in and the need that they have for Alabama students to help out,” Hascher stated. 

One of Ripple Effect’s primary objectives is to help freshmen find a passion for volunteering on and off campus, said Bailey Chandler, the coordinator of volunteer management for the CSL.

“It definitely draws students in and if they really enjoy it, they continue to come back and serve with us throughout their time at UA,” Chandler said. “About 90 percent of our student staff at the CSL participated in Ripple Effect their freshman year.” 

Even though Ripple Effect is geared towards freshmen, a mix of upperclassmen also served in the event. For Sam Rier, a sophomore majoring in finance and economics, Ripple Effect was the perfect chance for him to give back in a personal way. Rier’s service work consisted of repainting portable classrooms at Vance Elementary School, a project that was special to him. 

“For me, I went to a public elementary school too and I remember how nice it felt when we had our portable classrooms repainted," Rier said. "It felt like someone else cared and it created a sense of pride. The fact that these kids will come back to school and see that someone cared is really cool to me.” 

Students interested in becoming more involved with community service can learn more about the CSL's opportunities on their website, www.leadandserve.sa.ua.edu.

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