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SLU Launches New Service Day

by Nancy Solomon on 08/17/2018
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Close to 1,800 Billikens will come together for Saint Louis University’s first New Student Day of Service on Saturday, Aug. 25. 

About 1,600 incoming freshmen and transfer students and 200 veteran student mentors will participate in community service projects at approximately 50 sites across the St. Louis area.

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Service is a tradition at SLU, and last spring, students cleaned up a garden as part of the annual Showers of Service day of giving back.

The event underscores the importance of service to life at SLU. The Princeton Review has named SLU as the number one university in the nation for community engagement. In addition, during its bicentennial year, SLU has mounted the 200-Years-In-One Challenge, which encourages giving the equivalent of 200 years of service in a single year. Progress is tracked on a neon clock on campus through Nov. 14, 2018.

“Service to our community is a core element of a Jesuit education. Our hope is that including a service project as part of Fall Welcome not only introduces students to our culture of service but enforces the importance of service in our community,” said Justin Vilbig, coordinator of SLU’s New Day of Service. 

“Hopefully this immediate introduction to service encourages students to get involved early in their SLU career and make a routine commitment to service.”

Service projects range from weeding an urban garden and helping an elderly neighbor with a simple home repair to volunteering at the International Institute Festival of Nations in Tower Grove Park.

SLU students will spend about five hours – from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. – on a project that benefits one of approximately 40 community groups.

Before students board buses that will take them to their service sites, they will attend a 9 a.m. kick-off ceremony. As keynote speaker, Kent Porterfield, Ph.D., vice president for student development, will explain the importance of service to SLU’s mission and to a Jesuit education. Campus Ministry will offer a send-off blessing for the parents present and for the students.

In addition to reinforcing the value SLU places on community engagement, the New Student Day of Service will help students forge relationships with new classmates as they work together on a project for the good of others, said Bobby Wassel, Ph.D., assistant director of the Center for Service and Community Engagement.

The New Student Day of Service is among the SLU-sponsored service initiatives that include new 1818 community engagement grants that will fund student-led projects; the Showers of Service, which is sponsored by Alpha Phi Omega; and a staff-faculty service day that will be held in October.