Some 5,000 new students will take their first steps as college students this week on the West Virginia University campus.
And 1,000 of them will take those first steps giving back to their new community as part of a re-imagined Welcome Week kickoff to the fall semester.
“One of the best things we can do for new students is to integrate them into their new community,” said Kristi Wood-Turner, director of learning and engagement through the Center for Service and Learning, which is coordinating the service projects.
The service projects were created in conjunction with the Million Hour Match initiative, which challenges WVU students and West Virginia citizens to each complete one million hours of service (for a total of two million hours) by 2018 in an effort to inspire learning and promote civic engagement.
In addition to the Million Hour Match connection, Wood-Turner says the service days introduce students to the culture of civic engagement WVU promotes and creates Mountaineers who will spend four years of college understanding the importance of giving back—and putting that knowledge into action.
“The service days give us an opportunity in one organized event to show new students the positive culture that we have at WVU and to demonstrate to them that the Morgantown community needs our students as much as our students need the community,” said Wood-Turner. “It’s an opportunity to get out and do; that makes our students feel good as they start their college experience, too.”
The nearly 750 new students in the WVU Honors College will spend Friday (Aug. 14) participating in a city-wide clean-up effort with 25 community partners. They will start the morning at the Creative Arts Center, where they will receive a charge from President Gordon Gee.
“I want these young people to understand that they can improve not only the lives of others, but their own lives and college experiences through service to their new community,” said Gee. “I think it is outstanding that they are spending their first days as Mountaineers working tirelessly to improve their new home.”
Students from Adventure WV will also spend Friday giving back as they complete trail maintenance with the Cooper’s Rock Foundation, work on a home build in Jerome Park through Habitat for Humanity, facilitate cardboard recycling during move-in at Towers with WVU WECAN and work on bike repair and shop work at Positive Spin near Marilla Park.
Earlier in the week on Tuesday (Aug. 11), students enrolled in Mountaineer Success Academy will partner with Mountaineer Area Council to perform service at the Mason-Dixon Historical Park, local elementary schools and the Habitat for Humanity Restore.
Incoming members of the WVU College of Law class of 2018 will spend today (Aug. 10) and Tuesday (Aug. 11) serving their community by preparing and serving dinners at the Ronald McDonald House as part of their orientation program.
New doctoral students in the School of Public Health will also devote their first days on campus giving back, as they will travel Thursday morning (Aug. 13) to the Rosenbaum Family House in the spirit of service.
Student Government Association President George Capel says the service projects are integral to the high standards that WVU works to set for their students.
“These students are serving their community before they even start classes,” Capel said. “It sets the standard high for our students from day one and we should continue to push that standard to demonstrate the culture of service and learning we value at WVU. It’s so important for our new Mountaineers to become oriented to their community and start giving.”
The opportunity to serve their community isn’t limited to new students – and it won’t end after Welcome Week. Additional service opportunities will be available throughout the fall semester, including the Governor’s Day to Serve from Sept. 11 to Oct. 11 and Make a Difference Day on Saturday, Oct. 24.
WVU faculty and staff will also have a day of service on Thursday, Oct. 15.
For more information on the Million Hour Match and to stay updated on service opportunities, please visit the Center for Service and Learning at http://www.service.wvu.edu.
CONTACT: Kristi Wood-Turner; Director for Learning and Engagement
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