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With spring in the air and warmer months around the corner, many people are rolling up their sleeves to perform a little elbow grease on spring cleaning projects. This week, Olivet College is following suit. Campus-wide and surrounding communities will give back this Wednesday, March 30 in support of the college’s annual Spring Service Day.

Learning Through Service

Since 1995, Olivet College has devoted one day each semester toward helping others; bringing faculty, staff and students together to make a difference in the world around them.

Service learning coordinator Carrie Jacob ’14 oversees the list of Service Day projects hosted by the clubs and organizations on campus. For Jacob, it’s about exposing the college community to service and getting others involved.

“The college was founded on the principle of doing service and doing it for others, so I think it’s important that we involve everyone on campus in some sort of service on Service Day. It helps people who have the heart for service, who may not realize it, learn that they want to be involved,” Jacob said, who is often involved in a project herself each Service Day.

Among other projects, members of Art Alliance will be helping to paint the Coachlight, a local restaurant in downtown Olivet, to increase curb appeal. And the campus’ chapter of Colleges Against Cancer (CAC) will be hosting a Relay For Life 5K “Colors of Cancer” Run/Walk race. Students and community members can register to compete or volunteer and assist with the event, all while earning Service Day credit.

To senior Katherine Pestun, the opportunity to support societies like the American Cancer Association, and to help contribute toward the fight against cancer, makes Service Day a meaningful event.

In the past at Relay For Life, CAC has been able to donate an average of $1,000 to cancer research. “I’m just happy we get to make a difference,” Pestun said, who currently serves as CAC secretary and is a third-year member of the organization.

This year, the Relay For Life 5K begins at 11 a.m. at The Cutler Event Center. The cost for registration is $20 and includes a T-shirt and access to prizes and giveaways throughout the event.

National Outreach

Service is not just limited to one day of the year, nor the surrounding communities near Olivet College. In addition to facilitating ​Service Day, the service learning department also hosts trips throughout the academic year across the country for students to engage in community service work for others, often those affected by natural disasters.

Students like senior Drew Miller had the chance to perform flood relief work in Georgetown, South Carolina during his spring break this year, which he described as “a once in a lifetime experience.”

When Miller didn’t have any plans for spring break, it was an email about the upcoming trip from Jacob that had caught his eye.

“I didn’t have anything planned for spring break and when the email was sent out it looked cool … giving a hand to help

someone is something that I always love to do,” Miller said.

In his first-ever service trip experience, Miller said that his week comprised of performing mostly contracting and carpentry work, executing mold control by cutting drywall, pulling up flooring damaged by water, installing cabinetry and wall trimming, even entering a small crawl space to perform sanitation work with a full body suit on.

“Performing this service was a great feeling. It is always great to help others, especially when you get to meet them and they show you how much they appreciate you. It was awesome that I got to meet new people that went to Olivet that I did not know before this trip,” Miller said.

It’s safe to say that Miller was glad he kept an eye out for the opportunity to make a difference during his alternative spring break, otherwise he would not have had such an eye-opening travel experience.

He encourages other students to take advantage of volunteering because, “you get to travel and see more of the world and help people that are in need, and also the organization (All Hands Volunteers) that you are working for,” Miller said.

Want to lend a hand? To learn more information about Service Day and how you can make a difference within the community, contact director of service learning Mike Fales at mfales@olivetcollege.edu or 269.749.7624.

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