On Oct. 25, Pierce College students and faculty banded together with King 5 News for Make A Difference Day.
The event, which consisted of replacing 6 toilets and painting 14 units in the Salvation Army’s Jarvie Family Memorial Home, had a turnout of 104 total volunteers, 49 of which were from Pierce College Puyallup and Fort Steilacoom.
The event gave Pierce College students the option to make a difference in their community.
“I would say that the project really helped students to realize that they can make a positive impact on the community,” Rebecca Anderson, the community engagement coordinator and an AmeriCorp VISTA volunteer, said. “And that they gave back.”
Anderson organized the event, contacting King 5 News and asking if Pierce College could get involved.
“We wanted to show our support for engagement and community service,” Anderson said. “We wanted to be part of the national service movement.”
The labor involved seemed to pay off for the volunteers.
“While I was doing it, I realized that there was just this amazing sense of community,” Student Body President and Pierce College volunteer, Maria Rybalka said. “I just felt more involved and like I was a part of the community. I was happy to have helped.”
Rybalka also said that the service brought the students closer together. The ride there had been awkward and uncomfortable, but the way home was easier, with smiles and laughter.
“We replaced six toilets in the shelter and we painted 14 units,” Anderson said. “I think the volunteers felt that they were making a tangible difference. They could really see the impact that their efforts made for the shelter.”
Make A Difference Day started about 20 years ago and, according to USA Weekend Make a Difference Day Mission Statement, has grown into one of the largest single-days of service in the country.
The response from Pierce College students excited Anderson.
“I had a sense of gratitude that Pierce College students would come out on a Saturday in the rain and that they would be selfless,” Anderson said. “I think that it is inspiring to me that Pierce College Students believe in something bigger than themselves.”
According to their article, King 5 News actually selected five projects, but this was the only one Pierce got involved with.
Anderson said that Pierce doesn’t always wait for a national event to get involved: the bases for her position being to get Pierce students involved in their community
“Sometimes we get involved with large movements, like Make a Difference Day and Martin Luther King Day, or sometimes we go out on our own and we do service project with service partners,” Anderson said. “It’s not a part of national movement, it’s just us deciding to get involved.”
Make A Difference Day is just one of two national service days. The other is Martin Luther King Day.
While she does not have any details yet, Anderson says she does plan on having events revolving around Martin Luther King Day; Jan. 19.
Aside from just being a good experience, Rybalka said that the service has changed her opinion for the better.
“I got involved because I would get extra credit for a psychology class,” Rybalka said. “But I realized, after attending, even if I did extra credit, I still would have gone. It was pretty fun and it made me like volunteering more. I can see myself doing that in the future.”
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