Students take action with community service event

by Deirdre Murray / Beacon Correspondent • November 13, 2013

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Volunteers decorated letters for veterans with Operation Appreciation in the Multipurpose Room.
Volunteers decorated letters for veterans with Operation Appreciation in the Multipurpose Room.

From serving spaghetti to the needy to playing Family Feud with the elderly, for many students, Veteran’s Day was spent lending a helping hand throughout the Boston area. 

On Nov. 11, Off Campus Student Services held Emerson Action Day, a community service event where students had the opportunity to get involved and volunteer for organizations around the city. Six local organizations participated, including the Sierra Club, Goodwill, and the St. Francis House. 

According to Steven Martin, the assistant director of Off Campus Student Services, the event was meant to connect students with organizations near the campus.

“Many people think of community service as feeding the hungry, which is a great opportunity, but I wanted to make sure that I exposed the students to other service opportunities,” he said. 

The event, which was originally organized by the Office of Service Learning, has been hosted by the Off Campus Student Services for four years, according to Martin. He said the goal of the day was not only to educate students about Boston, but also to give back to the communities surrounding the college. 

“I think students gain a sense of community and understanding of the people around us,” said Martin. “Many [students] have used the term ‘Emerson bubble’ to explain our campus and by volunteering your time to help the community in which we live and learn gives you the opportunity to burst that bubble and actively contribute.”

Many students noted the positive opportunity in reaching out to others beyond the campus. Emma Craine, a freshman journalism major, said she regularly volunteers at the St. Francis House, and uses her experience to assist people she wouldn’t have met otherwise. 

“It’s important to see what else is out there,” she said. “I know we’re right [next to St. Francis House] and ... [students] see it all the time, but it’s different to experience it.” 

Craine said her involvement with the organization has not only been beneficial to her college experience, but also to her life. 

“It helps me get up in the morning,” she said. “When I think about who I could help or what could happen, it gives me a good perspective.” 

Hamad al Badi, a freshman marketing communications major, also said he spent the day at St. Francis House. 

“I got involved because I thought it’d be interesting,” he said. “Volunteering for people who have an economic disadvantage here in Boston is very important to me.” 

Badi said his history of service work inspired him to continue at Emerson. 

“I’ve done a lot of volunteer work because of the [International Baccalaureate] program,” he said. “We had to do 150 hours of volunteer service, so it’s almost second nature to me.” 

While many students participating chose to volunteer off campus, those wanting to give back didn’t have to venture far. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., students could stop by the Multipurpose Room  and write letters to those currently serving in the military, their families, and veterans, as a part of Operation Appreciation. The room was filled with crayons, markers, and construction paper for students to make their cards, a fun change of pace from their usual college schedule. 

As she finished coloring the last red line of a paper American flag, Elizabeth Venere, a senior writing, literature, and publishing major, said she wanted a way to say thanks to those who have served. 

“I think it’s important because I think growing up here in a safe environment, we’re not really aware of some of the sacrifices they have to make,” she said. “Just a small thank-you card shows them how much we appreciate what they’ve done for us.”