Day of Service participation exceeds goal

Laura Monaco

Day of Service participants will travel to over 120 service sites in the Greater Philadelphia area to embark on the Fourth Annual Day of Service, celebrating the legacy of St. Thomas of Villanova this Saturday.

Participants, including students, faculty and staff, will gather as the Villanova community to partake in activities such as gardening, cleaning streets and community parks and beautifying community recreation centers.

In its short history, the Day of Service has grown immensely in both the number of participants, as well as in student involvement in planning.

“The goal this year is to increase the number of students, faculty and staff who engage in the Day of Service,” said junior Student Chair Kyle Holtz, adding that the committee’s goal was 3,000 participants.

When registration closed on Tuesday night, the count had reached 3,255 total volunteers.

Previously, the Day of Service was coordinated by several committees composed solely of staff members; however, in the past two years, much of the event planning has been undertaken by students. Recently, student and faculty interaction has increased as students are paired students with faculty members to scout for service sites and plan the logistics of the day.

The student committee advertised heavily for the event to ensure that students would set aside Sept. 19 for service.

“We went to club meetings, set up a table in Connelly, spoke with faculty and advertised in the Wildcat Newswire and on myNOVA to encourage as many students as possible to participate,” said senior Outreach Coordinator Jaime Philip.

As in previous years, the committee provided the student body with both group and individual registration.The group registration feature, which accounts for two-thirds of the total number of volunteers, allows athletic teams, fraternities, sororities, residence halls and orientation groups, as well as many other organizations to serve together.

Individual registration, which opens after group registration closes, provides a last-minute means of registration for students who forgot to sign up with a group or who wish to go to a specific service site on their own.

In addition to the student and faculty volunteers, Villanova alumni from ten chapters across the country will also be participating in the Day of Service by tending to the needs of their local communities on Saturday.

“Once people see the success of the event, they want to take part in it,” Holtz said. “It has really become a Villanova tradition, as it exemplifies community in every sense of the word.”

The involvement of the event’s founder, University President Rev. Peter Donohue, O.S.A., is a primary reason for the popularity and success of the Day of Service.

“The idea of the Day of Service is very important to Donohue,” said Christine Quisenberry, assistant to the president for events. “We are technically working in committees headed by the President of the University, and are the only one of this kind. This makes us pretty unique.”

Unlike many University events, which are restricted to students, anyone can volunteer for the Day of Service.

Members of the St. Thomas of Villanova parish have participated in the past, and faculty members and alumni are encouraged to bring their families to the event.

Their participation emphasizes its community appeal, as well as its devotion to the University’s mission.

Tomorrow, the St. Thomas of Villanova Celebration formally begins with an academic symposium at 3 p.m. The symposium will present a larger picture of the importance of service, in accordance with the mission of the University.

“Through the Day of Service, as well as the Academic Symposium tomorrow, we really hope to embody the University’s mission of veritas, unitas and caritas,” Quisenberry said.

The celebration continues on Saturday, beginning with a send off for the Day of Service from Donohue.

“Out of all of the day’s events, I look forward to Father Peter’s send off the most,” Holtz said. “You see students come out in scores for basketball games, but to see them come out for this event is really a sight.”

Upon the return from various service sites, the event will conclude with a community liturgy and dinner in the Pavilion.

“This event is truly special because of the many people who participate in it,” Philip said. “It could never happen if so many people on the committee did not invest in it and initiate it. People are really affected by this day.”