Reprinted with permission. By Corey Fecteau/Alfred University
The sixth annual Celebrate Service, Celebrate Allegany day of service event, held on Saturday, Oct. 28, was a success, as 250 student volunteers from Alfred University, Alfred State College, and Houghton College engaged in community service projects throughout Allegany County.
Students from all three institutions gathered at their respective colleges and were transported to pre-arranged service locations throughout much of the county. Students worked on outdoor projects, such as fall clean-up, and indoor projects, such as preparing meals, assembling aid packages, and painting. Overall, 250 volunteers worked on 30 projects in 14 different communities.
Six years ago, a group from Leadership Allegany organized the inaugural Celebrate Service, Celebrate Allegany service day. The vision of this event – building relationships between students and community members, enhancing student exposure to the county beyond the confines of the campuses, and delivering meaningful help to public and non-profit organizations – continues annually.
Over the past five years, more than 2,000 students have participated in Celebrate Service, Celebrate Allegany, investing more than 12,000 hours of service to Allegany County communities during the annual day of service alone. Celebrate Service, Celebrate Allegany is scheduled each year on Make a Difference Day, the largest single national day of community service.
“Serving Allegany County allows students to better understand the culture and needs of their adopted communities,” said Corey Fecteau, service learning coordinator for Alfred University. As a result of this event, “students identify more with the local community. Hearing about the connections they make between their home communities and Allegany County is always a highlight of the event.”
“Alfred State students are eager to give back to their community,” said Amy Miller, Alfred State College coordinator of civic engagement. “Each organization explains their outreach and mission so students understand how their service contributes to the bigger picture. Additionally, students develop an understanding of the ongoing needs and opportunities of the organization so they can continue to serve throughout their college career.”
“What excites me the most when I drive around to check in on students at the different community project sites is the great conversation and relationship-building that happens between students who are serving a common purpose, and with the community partner that they are working alongside,” noted Phyllis Gaerte, Houghton College alumni and community engagement director. “There is no better way to get to know your neighbors.”
The impact of Celebrate Service, Celebrate Allegany goes far beyond a single day. For students, it is a way to illustrate and develop a culture and lifestyle of community service, which they will hopefully carry with them throughout their tenure as students and into their lives post-education. For local communities, it enables important tasks, projects, and events to get a jump-start, make significant progress, or come to fruition.
The three institutions rely on donations to help pay for necessary supplies, t-shirts, and transportation for the day of service. This year, financial and in-kind support was graciously provided by Otis Eastern Services, Leadership Allegany, The Greater Allegany Chamber of Commerce, Allegany County Area Foundation, Auxiliary Campus Enterprises and Services (ACES), Allegany County United Way, Alfred Sports Center, and Steuben Trust Company.
For more information about the Celebrate Service, Celebrate Allegany day of service, please visit www.celebrateallegany.com.