The Center for Leadership and Service (CLS) hosted "Cougars That Care Day of Service," a philanthropic, day-long event dedicated to serving many organizations and communities around Kean University.
Students had the opportunity to volunteer at various service events throughout the surrounding community on Saturday, April 22, 2017.
From student groups and athletic teams to fundraising organizations, these charitable groups demonstrated the university's students' commitment to community service. The volunteers that participated in this event included current students, alumni, and staff of Kean University.
Approximately 100 volunteers registered for the charitable events on this Saturday and, through multiple organizations' efforts to assist the communities surrounding Kean University, students and other volunteers were able to enjoy this experience of giving back.
The volunteers that participated in this event included current students, alumni and staff of Kean University.
Organizational groups such as Habitat for Humanity, Atria Senior Living and the Arc of Union County hosted Kean University's volunteers to help assist them in their selfless acts of giving back to their respective communities.
For the Atria Senior Living volunteer program, attendees performed manicures, assisted residents with making beaded bracelets and helped to create blankets that would be donated to a veteran's organization. The day was spent at the facilities in Cranford, N.J. The afternoon of making connections, arts and other recreational activities went from 12:30 p.m to 4 p.m.
Anais Peralta, a member of the Atria Senior Living volunteer group, enjoyed the day of service as she and others spent their time with those who needed it.
"I was thrilled to witness our volunteers interacting with the residents while they received manicures in order to pamper them. There was a resident who was 102 years old and was filled with motivating energy to inspire me to live my life to the fullest!" said Peralta.
In Dover, N.J., the Habitat for Humanity program, an organization that is known for building and rehabilitating more than 400,000 houses, would also see a positive turnout with their services in collaboration with the volunteers of Kean University. From 7:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m., volunteers were tasked with installing insulation and laying tile flooring in houses in the Dover area.
“After the day was over there was a great feeling of accomplishment. Installing insulation and laying tile flooring gave volunteers the opportunity to work as a team and visually see the progress they were making. It was a very rewarding experience,” said Kristen Failla, a service specialist of the CLS and volunteer who assisted the Habitat-for-Humanity-sponsored event. Failla is a sophomore majoring in sociology with a concentration in communication disorders.
In another part of the Day of Service, Kean University's volunteers worked with the Arc of Union County program and provided companionship and assistance to members of the weekend respite program. This program was developed to provide families with assistance and support of their ongoing responsibilities related to caring for an individual with a disability, and Kean's volunteers helped these children with making arts and crafts. They would add to the fun by also playing games with them this weekend.
Lastly, the Community FoodBank of New Jersey was assisted by the volunteers who participated on this day. Students, volunteers, staff and faculty helped sort and organize food donations. From 11 a.m to 2 p.m., volunteers helped organize these goods in a warehouse in Hillside, N.J.
Gabriella LaPointe, a volunteer who helped organize the goods that would be later donated, got her inspiration to help give back from a volunteer coordinator at the event.
"One of the volunteer coordinators shared a few inspirational words with our group before we got started for the day," LaPointe said. "He put it into perspective how quickly life circumstances can change, and the importance of helping out while you can. We started off the service project extremely motivated and were able to get a lot of work done."
Throughout the communities surrounding Kean University, much was done to show that the Cougars of Kean University really do care!
This annual event saw a great turnout and, for the volunteers involved, the experience of giving back to the supporting organizations and communities around them was something they will never forget.