In an effort to provide meaningful help through volunteer service and build relationships with community members, around 500 student volunteers from Alfred State, Alfred University, and Houghton College pitched in Saturday for the third annual Celebrate Service Celebrate Allegany.
The event coincides with the national Make a Difference Day, the largest national day of community service. CSCA began in October 2012 as a Leadership Allegany project with a vision to develop a countywide day of service involving students from all three Allegany County-based colleges.
Volunteers undertook dozens of mainly-outdoor oriented activities across the county Saturday at such places at schools, playgrounds, churches, food pantries, and libraries. Their tasks varied from painting and inventorying disaster kits to raking leaves and cleaning.
Jonathan Hilsher, director of the Center for Civic Engagement at Alfred State, said more than 200 Alfred State students participated this year, which is the highest total number of volunteers the college has had at the event so far.
“I think it’s great to see different organizations making CSCA a part of what they do,” Hilsher said. “For example, the baseball team volunteered at two Wellsville sites on Saturday. Coach Jason Cronin and the team often make it a point to include community service into their busy schedule, something I’m seeing more and more of in other organizations throughout campus.”
Unlike the first two times Celebrate Service Celebrate Allegany took place, the weather cooperated this year.
“It was great that the weather was so nice, especially with so many outside projects,” Hilsher said. “That hasn’t been the case the last two years with the weather typically being either drizzly or windy, and maybe 20 degrees cooler than it was on Saturday.”
Derek Perry, an Alfred State technology management major from Angola, said he volunteered at the Yorks Corners Mennonite Church in Wellsville, redirecting water that was draining into the building. He said Celebrate Service Celebrate Allegany is a great way for students to give back to the community.
“We had a much larger turnout this year than we did last year, which is very promising to see,” Perry said. “I felt this year went very well, the weather was absolutely beautiful, registration went quickly for how many people attended, and there were no problems with transporting people to locations.”
According to Hilsher, an important aspect of the event is that students are able to cultivate relationships with local businesses and non-profit organizations.
“There was a lot of meaningful volunteer help provided Saturday. But, I also feel that this day is a great platform for relationship building. It enables students to get off campus and meet community members and community members to meet college students,” Hilsher said. “I think that’s one of the best things about an event like this.”
In photo above: Alfred State students, from left to right, Collin Kratzer, a financial services major from Canisteo; Felix Paulino, a computer information systems major from Bronx; and Stephen Eaton, an architectural technology major from Rochester, prep and clean storm windows Saturday during the third annual Celebrate Service Celebrate Allegany.
Don’t forget that Tuesday, Nov. 4 is Election Day! Students should visit https://voterlookup.elections.state.ny.us/votersearch.aspx to double-check that they can vote locally. If registered to vote in the village of Alfred, students can cast their ballots between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. at A.E. Crandall Hook & Ladder Company at 6 Main St., Alfred.
Students who are registered voters can sign up for TurboVote at alfredstate.turbovote.org to receive important Election Day 2014 information, including polling place information and a preview of their ballot. TurboVote also includes other features that will be helpful for future elections, such as requesting absentee ballots and registering to vote. So far, roughly 30 Alfred State students have signed up for TurboVote, according to Jonathan Hilsher, director of the Center for Civic Engagement.
Also, the Judicial Campaign Ethics Center of the New York State Unified Court System has launched the annual non-partisan Judicial Voter Guide at www.nycourts.gov/vote. The guide contains information about judicial candidates on the ballot in each county based on information provided by the state and county election boards and is designed to help people make a more informed decision on Election Day.
“Election Day is an opportunity to exercise your civic right and responsibility to make your voice heard,” said Hilsher. “I’d encourage everyone to invest the time to vote on Tuesday.”