Students volunteer for ‘Treasure’
Published: Thursday, October 27, 2011
Updated: Thursday, October 27, 2011 12:10
More than 500 Armstrong students, faculty, staff and alumni gathered bright and early Oct. 22 in Residential Plaza for the third Treasure Savannah. President Linda Bleicken started the biannual community service endeavor last fall to create an opportunity for Armstrong to contribute to the city.
"We're giving back for all the years [that this city has put into the university] in terms of graduates from this institution who live and work in the community," Bleicken said. "This is a great opportunity for our students to give back to the community, but also to understand a little bit more about the city of Savannah and the needs that is has. There's a lot of need in this city."
Volunteers registered for 18 different service opportunities located around Chatham County. Ninety volunteers remained at Armstrong. Some of the volunteers assisted with coordinating, checking-in helpers and distributing T-shirts, as well as other event needs. Others cleared the brush along the new bike path, repaired brick-paved walkways to ensure safety, washed signs, and removed cigarette butts and other trash around campus.
Most of the volunteers participated by performing basic gardening and maintenance work, painting, and ridding the streets and parks of trash. At the Ronald McDonald House, students cleaned fences and cleared flower beds of weeds, and the entrance sign of Pooler's Tom Triplett Park received a new coat of paint.
"We painted. We picked up trash. We picked up cigarette butts from the park. People were very appreciative," said respiratory therapy major Earlishia Collins, a volunteer at Tom Triplett Park. "We painted signs and poles, the entrance gates. There was a lot.
"It felt good knowing that the people of the park appreciated it because the people of the park would walk up to us and say ‘thank you,' so it was worthwhile."
Other volunteers sorted food donations for America's Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia's food bank, washed emergency-response vehicles at three Southside Fire Department stations and assisted the Union Mission. Artistic volunteers helped revive the existing mural in the courtyard of the Union Mission men's shelter, while others organized items in a Union Mission warehouse.
"There was furniture and a gazebo that needed painting, so five students took care of that. The rest of us were inside a warehouse that needed clearing for Union Mission, and they decided to simply give to interested clients as well as folks in the neighborhood bedding, kids' toys, clothing and seasonal goods like Christmas trees," said Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Bill Kelso. "It was like Christmas in October."
The majority of the volunteers helped at the West Broad Street YMCA. Inside, they cleaned walls, tables, chairs and childcare equipment, as well as organized the weight room. Outdoors, they painted fences, cleared summer crops, pulled weeds, planted winter crops and spread mulch.
"I was assigned to clean up the gym, and we dusted and swept the floors and mopped the floors. And we wiped down all the equipment, and I scraped gum off the floor," said freshman Samantha Cain. "And it was very fun. We had a good time because you could stay with your group of friends, and we had a great time."
At noon, the buses retrieved volunteers and returned them to Armstrong for a free lunch in the Savannah Ballroom. "Star Wars" characters — a Stormtrooper, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Chewbacca — from the Ronald McDonald House joined the students and faculty and expressed their gratitude for their service.
"It really makes you go through teamwork. Usually we're so used to doing things alone and by yourself and getting through things quickly," said middle grades education major Thalia Ramirez, who volunteered with the Union Mission painting project. "But with this kind of project you actually kind of have to work with other people that are in your group and everything. It's really good, and also the fact that you get to go around and do our volunteer work. It's great."