Day of Service turns 10



Sean Doherty

This past Saturday, Sept. 12, almost 5,000 volunteers poured into the Pavilion, where they met with their friends, colleagues, teammates, fellow Greek life members or orientation groups and found their assigned locations. The atmosphere was electrified by the buzz of Villanova students, faculty, staff, and alumni ready to participate in the 10th Annual St. Thomas of Villanova Day of Service.

 Although relatively new, this event has come to serve as an embodiment of the University’s Augustinian values, a commitment to help neighboring communities, as well as a bonding memory among those who participated.

University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD addressed the crowd explaining that the Day of Service was created as a one time event to honor his inauguration as the 32rd University President in 2006, but the event was so successful and beloved by the community, it was continued annually. 

Student chair of the event, Thomas Hillebrecht ’16, also addressed the crowd saying, “It is absolutely incredible to see the response from the Villanova community. That this many people would dedicate their time and effort toward this cause makes me proud to be apart of this event.”

It would be difficult to find anyone on campus that did not know about the event, due to encouragement to participate by professors and organization leaders and friends. 

The planning committee hosted the “Rock the Oreo” event, which took place Friday evening as a way to prepare for Service the following day. 

This event alone gathered about 300 people to come listen to the spectacular a capella groups sing as well receive free Chipotle and St. Rita’s flavored ice. The program was rounded out by Rev. Tom McCarthy, O.S.A, who shared reflections on St. Thomas of Villanova and our Augustinian heritage.

This year, there was a record breaking number of volunteers registered who were divided among 136 different sites in the Greater Philadelphia area, ranging from community gardens to churches to neighborhood clean ups. One of the sites in particular hosted 506 volunteers alone. 

The Pennsylvania Horticulture Society, City Harvest Program, whose mission is to help urban gardeners make fresh produce more readily available in under-resourced areas, put the volunteers to work throughout the city. One of the Site Leaders, Chelsey Henderson ‘16 said, “it was pretty impactful when one of the women who lived across from the land came over to work with us and thank us for our hard work, it really put all our work into perspective.”

After all of the hard work by the volunteers, they came back to campus where they were greeted by the planning committee and received their well-earned Day of Service t-shirts. 

Chrissy Quisenberry, Assistant to the President for Events, said, “the sites we go to on the Day of Service are very important to us.  We have built relationships with them over the years and we want to continue the partnership we have with them. I look forward to the volunteers returning to campus so that I can hear about the work that they did and what we were able to contribute to those sites.” Though everyone was visibly exhausted, there were smiles all around, epitomizing the Villanova spirit.

Closing the weekend out, there was a beautiful community liturgy on Sunday in the Campus Green, honoring the Day of Service as well as honoring the patron saint of the University, St. Thomas of Villanova.