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UNCG students working on the garden at Lindley Elementary School in Greensboro

Over 200 UNC Greensboro students spent part of their Saturday serving the Greensboro community as part of the 14th annual Spartan Service Day. Led by the Office of Leadership and Civic Engagement, students participated in community service projects for 13 local and national organizations such as the City of Greensboro Parks and Recreation, Reading Connections, The Barnabas Network, Project Linus, and more.

“Spartan Service Day is a great way for students to be introduced to a community organization in Greensboro through hands-on direct service,” said Katelyn Bodwell, assistant director of civic engagement.

Following COVID-19 protocols, groups were limited in size, and participants wore face coverings and remained socially distanced. Many locations were outside, involving activities such as weeding, pruning, and gardening at Cone Health Healing Gardens, Lindley Elementary, and Southern Guilford Middle, and assisting refugees and immigrants at New Arrivals Institute’s Growing Peace Community and Children’s gardens. 

Other projects included cleaning and organizing donations at Spartan Open Pantry, sorting and moving furniture at a furniture bank, prepping a shoe drive for those who judicially served, and helping prospective families in a literacy program fill out paperwork and assemble literacy kits.

“All of our projects for Spartan Service Day are requested by the community partners themselves, so we are able to send students to organizations who are in need of a group of volunteers to complete a task, increase their capacity, or support everyday tasks,” says Bodwell.  “We do this to ensure the impact is guided by the community and not our perceptions of the community.”

At the end of the day, each group had the opportunity to reflect on their service project with the student site leaders, addressing the systemic causes of homelessness and environmental issues, among other societal issues, and reflecting on how they were making a difference.

“Spartan Service Day, and participating in serving our community overall, is important to me because I think it is vital to remember that there is always meaningful work to do and there’s always someone who could use a helping hand,” says senior human development and family studies student Aaliyah Mathews.

“As a first-generation college student from a low-income background, I have experienced firsthand how service projects and community support can impact the lives of others. I served as an SECU Public Fellows intern this past summer at the YWCA Greensboro emergency family shelter, and that experience pushed me to get even more involved with campus and community service initiatives.  As I advance in my education, and eventually my career, I want to keep up the habit of doing what I can to give back.”

Senior kinesiology student Chimeri Anazia first participated in Spartan Service Day two years ago. She spent the day volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Piedmont, playing field games and doing craft activities with children. After seeing how much it meant to the children and the community, Anazia was inspired to continue to give back and has participated in every annual Spartan Service Day and MLK Day of Service since.

“It is important to give back to the community that supports you. Spartan Service Day is important to me because it provides us with the opportunity to get involved with something bigger than ourselves. It’s a great way to meet other UNCG students while serving and learning about local community organizations.”

woman measuring distance on ground between rocks
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Story by Alexandra McQueen, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane and Jiyoung Park, University Communications

 
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