The holidays remind us this is the season of giving. All members of SUNY make a concerted effort to volunteer and contribute to their respective campuses and local communities. The 30 Days of Giving campaign highlights students and faculty across all of our 64 campuses who participate in volunteerism and give back to those in need. With over 467,000 students and three million alumni, we want to celebrate the impact the SUNY community has made in all of their unique community service projects. As we learned last year, the byproduct of taking volunteerism to scale is not only building character in our students themselves as they join our over three million alumni, but also to set an example of impact as the nation’s largest university system.
Record Turnout for Freshman Service Day
If they were tired from hours of lugging boxes, moving furniture and hanging posters, the 200 freshmen who signed up to spend the day after move-in doing volunteer work didn’t show it.
In a classroom at Riverside Elementary School, “Brown Eyed Girl” played on Pandora while a group of four freshmen sat around a hexagonal table in kid-sized blue chairs. Their task: cutting and laminating numbers and names of months for a birthday bulletin board in Jacqueline Scanlon’s third-grade classroom. “I love this type of stuff,” said Megan Farrell, an elementary education major from Ballston Spa. “When I heard that there was a service day, I really wanted to do it—mostly to meet people, but also because I really volunteering.”
“They’re excellent workers,” interjected Scanlon from across the room. “When you’re just one person, some of these projects take hours. Having the students here makes such a huge difference.”
Riverside was one of 19 volunteer sites for the Center for Social Responsibility and Community’s sixth annual Freshman Service Day, which had record participation this year. In addition to 202 freshman volunteers, 30 upperclassmen and two faculty members — Associate Professor of Sociology Ho Hon Leung and Assistant Professor of Foreign Languages & Literatures Maria Montoya — served as team leaders. Volunteers gathered at the Goodrich Theater before heading off, via Oneonta Public Transit bus service, to their work assignments, which ranged from pulling invasive water chestnuts out of a swamp with the Otsego County Conservation Society to cleaning toys at the Oneonta Family YMCA preschool.
At the Hampshire House Adult Home, Katie Boghosian kept up a lively conversation with several residents over lunch. “I was interested in getting involved and meeting new people on the first day, and this sounded like fun. Now I’m really glad I did it,” said Boghosian, a dietetics major from Saratoga.
Besides helping new students meet friends, Freshman Service Day gives students a chance to get to know their new community, and it often sets the stage for ongoing volunteer work. Collectively, SUNY Oneonta students volunteer more than 50,000 hours every year through the Center for Social Responsibility and Community in collaboration with nearly 100 different nonprofit agencies in Otsego County.
Shaniese Alston was a student assistant in the Office of New Media of the State University of New York for the fall 2013 academic semester while a student at the University at Albany.