By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
Over 250 Mississippi State University students went out in to the community yesterday to give back to the town the Bulldogs call home.
The annual Service DAWGS (Donating A Wonderful Gift of Service) Day helped kick off the new school year for both returning students and brand new freshmen.
“This the fourth year we have had Service DAWGS Day,” Megan Thomas, assistant director for Service DAWGS Day said. “Each year, we have noticed the event continues to grow significantly. This year, we had about 250 students signed up one week before the event takes place — we have never had that type of student response so early.”
The volunteers split up into groups, ranging from five to 50 people in each, and went to 24 different sites around Starkville, Oktibbeha County and the Golden Triangle area. The sites ranged from the Starkville Community Market, the Maroon Edition Habitat for Humanity House, the Palmer Home in Columbus to local schools.
“The students’ tasks will vary according to the site he or she is assigned. Of course at Habitat for Humanity, the students will be building a home for a family in the Starkville community,” Thomas said. “At the Starkville Public Library, the students will be helping arrange and catalog books. Students will also be gardening, cleaning, picking up garbage and sorting clothes at other various sites.”
The volunteers all met up at Junction bright and early Tuesday morning before getting their job assignments and heading out to their respective sites.
Five volunteers stopped by the GoPlay playground at Henderson Ward Stewart to help out in the garden. The playground is a center for outdoor learning and activities at the two schools. The volunteers helped get the garden in order for the new school year.
“What we hoped to do was clean up our garden area that we started last year, and we’re transplanting plants that the children grew over the summer feeding program,” Heather Carson, site volunteer coordinator, said. “This whole area will be an outdoor classroom that the teachers can use.”
At the Humane Society, the students spent the day walking the dogs, cleaning cats and working on the gardens in front of the building, which shelter Manager Anita Howard said was a huge help.
“Volunteering has always been a part of my life and I am honored to be a part of this,” Corie Stanford, a shelter volunteer, said.
The students spent all morning working on site and returned back to campus in the afternoon. As a reward for all their hard work, volunteers received a free pizza lunch on campus donated by CJ’s Pizza, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, Little Caesar’s, Old Venice and Domino’s.
“Service DAWGS Day is a great opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to interact with one another while also giving back to the community. We realize the wonderful relationship that Starkville and MSU have together. We want to continue expanding on that and continue to exemplify just what Starkville really means to our university,” Thomas said. “(Volunteers) learn the importance of service, giving back, connecting with peers and involvement within the campus and community.”