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Wednesday, March 28 marked Spring Service Day at Olivet College – bringing faculty, staff and students together to make a difference in the world around them. Since 1995, the college has devoted one day each semester to helping others, but the mission to do good has been a core value at OC since the college’s founding in 1844. Today, students have adapted the motto, “Be More. Do Good.”

Service projects are organized by Jacob Richards ’18, community service coordinator, and span throughout campus and into surrounding communities. This year, students participated in many annual projects like cleaning up around campus, crafting blankets for Project Linus, researching in the Olivet College Archives, volunteering at the Mid-Michigan Leadership Academy and preparing the Mawby Native Plant Garden for another prosperous year.

In addition, students also tackled new projects, including spending time exercising with local children at Fern Persons Elementary School, helping City Hall employees rake and photograph the Olivet Cemetery, renovating the pedestals used during art exhibitions and organizing a clothing drive.

“Regardless of which project Comets participate in, Olivet College’s Service Day is very important because it offers students the chance to experience a new kind of learning – service learning,” Jacob explained. “Service learning is all about personal growth while creating a change in the world. My favorite part about Service Day is the amazing work OC can do when we come together. Each student completes about three hours of service, and we have nearly 1,000 students. That results in 3,000 hours of volunteering in just one day. When Olivet students come together, we quite literally change the world!”

This year, the cold weather clothing drive was a tremendous success and brought together Comets from different groups across campus, including the soccer team. Freshman Samantha Gifford, who plays goalie, has a passion for helping others in addition to her love of the sport, and being able to perform service with her team was one of her favorite experiences this semester. Tapping into her athletic background, Samantha compares volunteer work to a sporting event where both teams win.

“It’s a great feeling knowing the scarves and blankets the team made are going to make someone warmer and happier,” Samantha explained. “It is awesome for students to realize that we are going to school to make a difference in other people’s lives, and Service Day is a great reminder of that.”

Junior Nataliya Malaydakh, an international student from Ukraine who also participated and helped lead the cold weather clothing drive, explained that Olivet College’s commitment to service learning is one of the main reasons she chose to become a Comet. She plans to shape her career around international relations, and making the world a better place is her mission – both professionally and personally. “I believe it is always important to give back to your community, and I am super proud of Olivet College for encouraging all students to give back,” Nataliya exclaimed. “It unites the student body, and brings us all together for a common good.”

Many students find that once they see the role they played in creating change, giving back becomes something they want to do routinely. Junior Emily Dorn couldn’t agree more. For her, performing service is a reminder to step outside of her own bubble and become more aware of the surrounding world. This year, she helped lead the research project in the Archives.

“Oftentimes, it’s easy to get stuck in our own little world and our problems and forget what life is about,” she explained. “This world isn’t about just us, but the other people here too. Service learning brings this to the forefront and helps reset students to what really matters. For example, it’s easy to only think about the college campus, but Olivet College is a huge part of the city of Olivet, so it’s crucial that we give back to the community that gives so much to us.”

Chances to perform service are available year round through service trips, both locally and globally, courses dedicated to service learning, collections taken during the holidays, efforts organized by groups on campus and more. In fact, service learning, with hands-on experiences at the core of each program, is one of the four core guarantees of the Olivet College ADVANTAGE, in addition to global learning opportunities that provide diverse and innovative educational experiences abroad; industry-leading internship and research opportunities; and graduation in four years or the fifth year is tuition free.

Visit campus or attend an upcoming admissions event to learn more about the Olivet College ADVANTAGE and especially service learning opportunities for Comets. Be sure to check out the Difference Maker Talent Scholarship, awarded to students who have a strong passion for making a difference in the lives of others. Contact the Office of Admissions at 800.456.7189 or admissions@olivetcollege.edu for more information.

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