Freshman Day of Service goes to heart of Mercyhurst experience


This year’s annual Day of Service — a revered tradition during Welcome Week at Mercyhurst University — is expected to reach 24 different community sites in the Erie area on Tuesday, Sept. 3. In addition, the North East campus will hold its second annual Saints in Service Day on Tuesday, with students volunteering at various sites in North East.

The Erie event will unite more than 615 incoming students, as well as 65 faculty, staff, administrators and student leaders who volunteer with Erie area organizations to deliver between 1,500 to 2,000 hours of community service.

“Mercyhurst University is unique because we deploy freshmen on this service experience even before they start their classes,” said Colin Hurley, director of service learning. “Our incoming students complete meaningful projects and, in doing so, are living out the university’s mission.”

While the Day of Service benefits members of the community, it also acts as a bonding experience for young adults coming to college for the first time. Some students enjoy their first college service experience so much that they return to the site to volunteer later in their college careers.

“Whether these new students previously resided in Erie, outside the state or out of the country, Day of Service offers them a shared experience that begins to define who they are at Mercyhurst as well as who they are in the community,” said Hurley. “This is a great introduction for incoming students. They are with their peers and it helps them feel connected to Mercyhurst traditions from the start.”

All volunteers will be getting their hands dirty; some of the tasks include gardening, sorting food, and park clean up, cataloging books, visiting with senior citizens and painting.

Volunteers will be escorted by bus from the parking lot behind the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center at 9:40 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 3.

The following is a tentative list of organizations where the community service will be performed:

The Mercyhurst Farm

Manchester Commons

Presque Isle State Park

Sight Center of Northwestern Pennsylvania

Second Harvest Food Bank

Golden Living Center – Walnut Creek

Springhill Senior Center

McClelland Park

Brevillier Village

Tom Ridge Environmental Center

AseraCare Hospice

Bayfront NATO, Inc. Martin Luther King Center

Trinity Center

Saint Mary’s Home of Erie

Multicultural Community Center

Bayfront Maritime Center

Lake Erie Ballet

Habitat for Humanity

Bethany Outreach Center

expERIEnce  Children’s Museum

Erie Art Museum

Pleasant Ridge Manor East

Erie Zoo

YMCA - Downtown

Meanwhile, the second annual Saints in Service Day goes from 9:30-11 a.m. at various sites in North East.

Rachel Pacholke, assistant director of student life at Mercyhurst North East, said she is expecting at least 200 students for the event. They will participate in various hands-on activities including gardening, painting and cleaning. Student groups will volunteer at the following sites: College View Manor; Parkside Manor; First Baptist of North East; 4NINE Thrift Store; North East Community Food Pantry; Mercyhurst Farm; St. Gregory Thaumaturgus Catholic Church; Episcopal Church of the Holy Cross; North East Cultural Center; McCord Memorial Library; and various locations around the North East campus.

“It’s a great way for students to give back to the community and form bonds with each other in the process,” Pacholke said.

The first 250 volunteers to sign up receive a free Saints in Service T-shirt.

For more information, contact Pacholke at 814-725-7061.

PHOTO: Freshmen work at Mercyhurst garden (2012 file photo).

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