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Service Day Draws Nearly 500 Volunteers

Northwestern students give back to organizations in Evanston and Chicago

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May 30, 2013 | by Stephen Anzaldi
NU Gives BackNU Gives BackNU Gives BackNU Gives Back
Northwestern students volunteer at the Evanston Ecology Center. Photos by Rafi Letzter
Northwestern students volunteer at the Evanston Ecology Center. Photos by Rafi Letzter
Northwestern students volunteer at the Evanston Public Library. Photos by Rafi Letzter
Northwestern students volunteer at the Evanston Public Library. Photos by Rafi Letzter

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Nearly 500 Northwestern students, along with some faculty and staff, rolled up their sleeves and got to work May 25 during NU Gives Back, the University’s third annual service day.

Volunteers fanned out to more than 25 sites in Evanston and Chicago, including the Evanston lighthouse, Mather Pavilion, Evanston Public Library, Family Focus and the Special Olympics.

“Each year, the number of sites, participants and support grows,” said senior Rebecca Rego, co-president of NU Gives Back. “And each year we touch more people, ask more questions and come back to campus with a better idea about what this community really is.”

So much for the common refrain: “Kids today are selfish.” Volunteers increased by more than 100 over last year’s event.

“No one does a day of community service for their resume,” said senior David Chase, the event’s other co-president. “This is purely an opportunity to give back to the place we call home while we’re at Northwestern.”

Becoming a new campus tradition, NU Gives Back supports and closely parallels important goals outlined in the University’s strategic plan. The service day helps connect the campus community through shared experience and reflects engagement with the world by expanding relationships with community organizations.

Chase sent the army of volunteers to work with a reflection on the day’s meaning.

“Today may be the impetus for some of you to pursue lifelong service,” he said. “Today may be the day you think more deeply about parts of Evanston you never explored. Or for some of you the day may be devoid of life-altering meaning.

“But I know for a fact that today we’ll relieve some full-time volunteers and employees at these sites of hundreds of work hours,” he said. “We’ll make children of Family Focus and the Special Olympics smile. And that’s a powerful impact.”

Chase and Rego agree that the challenges of raising funds and generating campus awareness were well worth their efforts, and they feel good about paving the way for next year’s leaders.