Annual St. Thomas Day of Service a success



Kate Capizzi

On Saturday morning approximately 5,000 students, faculty, staff and alumni and their families gathered to engage in various service projects throughout the Philadelphia area. In just one day, the University affected the lives of more than 145 different organizations, including agencies, schools, churches and living homes. The Day of Service, in its eleventh year, is an important part of the St. Thomas of Villanova celebration and a tradition integral to the University.

A majority of participants served at off-campus locations around the Greater Philadelphia area. Other students stayed on West Campus to assist with the Special Olympics’ Eunice Shriver Day.  EKS Day, named in honor of the founder of Special Olympics, is an opportunity for students to play alongside athletes with developmental disabilities.  

“[The goal] is to bring athletes of all abilities together to build camaraderie through sport” said Unified Assistant Stephen Perrotti. “We are incredibly thankful for the partnership with the Day of Service Committee.” The Day of Service leadership helped provide EKS Day with space on campus, materials and volunteers.  Four orientation groups forged relationships with athletes through games of volleyball, soccer and basketball. 

“It was great to see the athletes so into it and so happy playing their sport and how we were able to support them,” Harrison Jumper, ‘17 who played volleyball with the Special Olympians, said. “It was both a fun and rewarding experience.”  

In addition to working with Special Olympics, students were extremely involved in varying organizations. Almost all undergraduate students participated in the day, most freshman participating with their orientation groups. Numerous athletic teams were also present.

Another freshman worked at a nursing home on a farm for disabled adults.

“I really enjoyed working at the farm and picking apples,” the student said. “I didn’t realize that something so simple could be so therapeutic, and I’m grateful that the day of service with my orientation group influenced me as much as I hope my service affected them.”

Some groups had one-on-one interaction with the people they were serving. Others spent the day gardening at an arboretum, assisting at the humane society, and doing basic landscaping. Another student who worked cleaning a church and school said he had no idea how big the University’s community really was the Day of Service.

“At the end of the day when my group had finished cleaning, we took a group picture with kids of the families who worked,” he said. “The kids started singing the Villanova fight song, and that’s when I realized that the Villanova community was so much bigger than I thought, and how much service really brings everyone together.”

“Our Augustian Catholic values call us to do service and give back,” Ryan Brunnock, student-chairman of Day of Service, said. “It is something I have always believed in, and I think giving Villanova students the opportunity to help out those who are less fortunate is a pretty special thing.” 

Though the Day of Service was not initially created as an annual endeavor, each year students—notably freshmen—continue the practice of giving back.  The result of a nine month planning process, this special Saturday is a display of the University’s commitment to service.