Freshman and other incoming students at Caldwell College rolled up their sleeves to help the community on Saturday as part of their new student orientation.
The start of college can have its share of jitters, so students agreed that volunteering was a nice way to give back and at the same time get to know other students, staff and faculty.
This day of service has become an annual tradition at Caldwell for new students. They split into groups, along with orientation leaders, and head to area elementary and high schools and non-profit organizations to lend a hand.
Saturday was a beautiful sunny day, so many were happy to be outside scrubbing desk chairs and doing yard work.
At Marist High School in Bayonne, the Caldwell group washed some 500 desk chairs. Some of the high school students also volunteered with them.
Freshman Sean Puzzo of Scotch Plains said it was a great experience to meet and work side by side with the high school students who will benefit from the giving.
Incoming students Kyanna Edwin-Cannady of Linden and Anastasia Rhem from the Bronx were among the 150 students who volunteered at Liberty State Park in Jersey City. They did weeding and planting in the beautiful scenery.
"Everybody enjoyed themselves and enjoying getting to know each other,” Edwin-Cannady.
Students also said it was a good bonding experience.
“It seemed like we knew each other,” Rhem said.
Freshman Gracie Sullivan of Chicago is one of the incoming softball players who volunteered at Our Lady of the Lake School in Verona. Principal Sister Mary Agnes had the players unpack new classroom chairs and books and transport them to the classrooms, clean the library, and dismantle old playground equipment to make room for the new.
“We were glad we could help,” Sullivan said.
At a kick-off, they heard from senior Elizabeth Hooban who has seized many opportunities for community service at Caldwell. From going on Midnight Runs where students go into New York City to serve the homeless to rebuilding housing for the poor in Appalachia during a Spring Break, she has learned, that “service is love” and that one serves “with” the person he or she is reaching out to.
At a reflection after volunteering, Meghan Moran, of the Office of Student Activities and Volunteer Outreach, encouraged the students to really think about what they did during the day, to consider paying it forward and to engage in service during their college career.
Students were invited to bring school supplies to be donated to Our Lady Help of Christians school in East Orange. The result was 180 donations of some 3,500 items, which included pencils, crayons, art supplies, markers , tissues, pencils, and scissors.
The volunteer sites included:
Our Lady of the Lake School, Verona; Our Lady of Grace School, Fairview; St. Joseph School, Jersey City; St. Thomas the Apostle School, Bloomfield, Marist High School, Bayonne, Parish of the Resurrection, Jersey City; Our Lady Help of Christians School in East Orange; Lacordaire Academy, Upper Montclair; The Academy of St. Mary in Rutherford; Caldwell College Residence Life; and Liberty State Park.