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Over 2,000 Billikens Muster to 'Make a Difference'

As Saint Louis University anticipates the official kickoff of its 200-Years-in-One Service Challenge, over 2,000 Billikens mustered on Saturday, Oct. 28, to give back to the St. Louis community at 100 different sites around the region as part of SLU's Make A Difference Day (MADD).

Students put their backs into landscaping work at a local public school.Students put their backs into landscaping work at a local public school.

From readying gardens for the winter to decorating the Missouri History Museum to making fleece blankets to keep St. Louis warm this winter, the SLU community contributed hours of service and sweat to living out the University’s Ignatian mission to “set the world on fire” for the better. SLU staff and faculty members, along with their families, also joined in the day’s volunteering, extending the Jesuit call to service beyond the campus’s bounds. 

“Service is obviously an integral part of a Jesuit education,” Justin Vilbig, service and outreach coordinator for SLU’s Center for Service and Community explained. “Our hope with Make A Difference Day is that it is a first step for our students to enter into a life of service with others. MADD is designed to be accessible for students. We hope that after this initial encounter students will feel more confident to push their boundaries and enter into long-term service in the community.”

SLU’s Make A Difference Day is recognized as the largest day of service in the state of Missouri historically and has been counted as one of the largest in the nation. This year, SLU's service center estimates the campus contributed 12,500 combined hours as part of this year's MADD.

As part of the celebration of SLU’s bicentennial, the University plans to formally challenge the SLU community to contribute the equivalent of 200 years of service in a single year. That amounts to at least 1,753,176 hours that the SLU community hopes to record between the challenge’s official start on Nov. 14, 2017 and its conclusion in November 2018.

While this year’s Make A Difference Day won’t apply to the challenge’s count, SLU officials hope it inspires students to continue their service beyond the 1990s-themed October service day.

“Only through this prolonged engagement will students begin to understand the injustices in our communities and how we can dismantle these injustices,” Vilbig said. “This is an essential component of a Jesuit education.”

To learn more about SLU’s service quest, visit the 200-Years-in-One Challenge or stop by the kickoff on Tuesday, Nov. 14 at the corner of Grand and Lindell Boulevards.

Photos were submitted by members of the SLU community, Marianne Nguyen and Maggie Purtell.