Gannon University students, faculty and staff will congregate in the Hammermill Center at 8 a.m. Saturday to kick off Gannon’s annual Day of Caring volunteer event.
According to Sara Nesbitt, the program coordinator for the Center for Social Concerns, there will be snacks to help fuel volunteers before they do what she refers to as “spring cleaning” in the Erie community
Nesbitt said it’s a one-day service event that used to be run throughout Erie County by United Way but is now run by Keep Erie Beautiful, a subset of Keep America Beautiful. On the county level it’s about two weeks, and the goal is to get ready for spring. Nesbitt said it’s a great way for the university to give back to the community.
Gannon is contributing roughly 300 people, a number that Nesbitt hopes will climb by Saturday, for about three hours doing various projects such as working at the House of Mercy, the MLK Center and moving books for the Friends of the Library Book Sale, which is a partnership the fraternity Delta Kappa Epsilon has formed.
Evan DeFalco, a senior biology/pre-med major, said he and the fraternity enjoy building the bond with the Erie County Public Library and helping the staff with their book drive.
“They know they can always count on the brothers to be there,” he said. “The event itself is physically demanding with just the sheer volume of books being donated, but we always find ways to make any type of service fun and rewarding.”
DeFalco said the fraternity plans to continue its partnership with the library.
Nesbitt said a lot of projects this year are being done in partnership with Our West Bayfront as well as Gridley Park, which was started by a former Gannon employee named Jack Sims, who used to live by the park.
Nesbitt said that Sims “took it on as a personal mission and kind of left it to Gannon when he retired and moved away.”
Now, the Gannon football team has picked up the work each year at the park because it can’t participate in the Fall GIVE Day because there is usually a game scheduled.
Two other organizations that have signed up this year are the Student Government Association, which has volunteered to help at the MLK Center, and Habitat for Humanity, which will be doing a build.
Other organizations expected to participate include Alpha Psi Omega, the swim team, the women’s basketball team, the Society of Occupational Therapy Association, club hockey, pep band, club soccer, Delta Sigma Phi and Gamma Sigma Sigma service sorority.
Nesbitt said that Zeta Beta Tau, a Gannon social fraternity, was the first to sign up.
“It looks like most Greek life and groups that are either athletic or intramural are primaries for this event so far,” Nesbitt said.
A lot of the organizations look at it as group bonding, fulfilling a requirement or as something good to do to give back to the community, which according to Nesbitt is great because service is more fun with a group.
“Especially coming into this point in this semester, especially with the weather we’ve had, it’s so easy to get into a bubble,” Nesbitt said. “It’s so easy to just be overwhelmed by your personal problems and your personal to-do list and the stuff that seems so important to you, it’s so important to take a step back and say, ‘It’s not all about me,’ there’s this whole wider world out there that I need to spend time with.”
Students or groups wishing to sign up still can email Nesbitt at firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up on EngageU.
Nesbitt’s suggestion: get some friends together and make it a fun event.
“It’s three hours on a Saturday morning,” she said. “Normally you’re going to be asleep. Give up that time, go do some service and then go to IHOP with your friends for brunch.”