After hours of volunteer work on Sept. 18, helping at food pantries and community gardens, child care centers and shelters for homeless people, Maryville students described a combo well known to a successful volunteer: they were tired, but felt their hard work had paid off.
Maryville Reaches Out 2012, the University’s fifth annual day of community service, resulted in the most registered MRO volunteers ever: about 1,100 students, faculty, staff and alumni helping at more than 75 locations in eastern Missouri and southern Illinois. To signify the importance of giving back, Maryville cancels classes one day each year and asks the University community to help out in the region. Volunteers also organize activities on campus at Maryville, like the making of blankets for hospitalized children.
Maryville Reaches Out began as the idea of University President Mark Lombardi, PhD, and has grown significantly over the years. Associate Dean of Students Kathy Quinn explains that in the first four years of Maryville Reaches Out about 3,750 volunteers provided nearly 14,000 service hours on roughly 300 projects. Two students, Sarah Schwegel of Kirkwood and Chelsea Carroll of St. Charles, worked this summer as student coordinators of Maryville Reaches Out.
Sophomore Tres Potter, 19, of Sacramento, Calif., described his day volunteering at the Franklin County Humane Society. He cleaned kennels, litter boxes, cleared outdoor weeds and got to spend time with the dogs at the shelter. He felt he’d had a very productive day but said it made him sad knowing some of the animals had probably been mistreated or neglected before they arrived at the shelter. “It made me want to take care of them all. You’ve got to treat animals as you do humans, just with the utmost respect.”
Senior Julie Jouglard, a 21-year-old from Belleville, Ill., was sore after weeding and working at a Gateway Greening garden in downtown St. Louis. The organization empowers people to strengthen their communities through urban agriculture. She said it helps homeless people and others learn gardening and landscaping skills. She weeded gardens where squash, carrots, onions and more grew, helping to prepare the site for the City Seeds Urban Farm Field Day this weekend. “I think Maryville Reaches Out is a great way for kids on campus to give back to the community. It was really nice to see the end result.”