In the midst of papers and exams, 99 students put all their academic work aside for a day of volunteering in the name of Cougars That Care this weekend.
Throughout Saturday, October 15, 2016, Kean University students came together in an effort to better the community. The mission of Cougars That Care is to reserve one day as a day of service, for students to take a few hours and dedicate their time to the community.
The day of service was assembled by the Center for Leadership and Service (CLS).
For Cougars That Care, several volunteer outings were offered: Adopt-A-Park, Atria Senior Living, Community Food Bank of New Jersey and Habitat for Humanity.
For each opportunity, volunteers did not know the exact project for the day, so they had to be prepared for anything.
In Union County, there are 36 parks spanning over 6,200 acres. The upkeep of the parks is reliant on volunteers, which is why opportunities such as Cougars That Care are important for the community. Tasks could include pulling out weeds, collecting litter and repairing fences, among other projects. For the day, there were 23 volunteers who were assigned to pick up litter in Mattano Park in Elizabeth, N.J.
At Atria Senior Living, located in Cranford, N.J., 8 students offered companionship to senior citizens. During the few hours spent there, volunteers and residents bonded during arts and crafts and snack time. A favorite pastime during visits to Atria Senior Living is manicures, when the residents are pampered by students, who take care of their nails.
The Community Food Bank of New Jersey is always a popular option, as there is more space for several volunteers compared to the other opportunities. The food bank is located in Hillside, N.J.
For Cougars That Care, there were 53 student volunteers. That day, the assigned tasks involved packaging food and bagging an assortment of pasta.
By far the longest volunteer outlet of the day, Habitat for Humanity is another community service favorite among students. This volunteer outlet allows affordable homes to be built for low-income families. At around 7:30 a.m., a total of 15 students arrived on campus ready for their day of building a house, to help a family build a home.
Habitat for Humanity is a day in which students can learn various skills. For Cougars That Care, those skills included how to operate a screwdriver, proper techniques of hammering, installing a second-story floor and problem solving.
A lot happened during this weekend's Cougars That Care. What did nearly all 99 students take away from that experience? It is nice to take a day and give it to the community.