RU Appreciation asks students to give thanks
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Balancing classes, work and social lives, students often forget to take the time to stop and give thanks for what they have. This is why Kerri Johnsen created RU Appreciation, a new community service program on campus.
RU Appreciation started with the committee that runs the “Scarlet Day of Service,” and the program allows students to give thanks and show appreciation for much of what goes unrecognized.
Johnsen, the coordinator for RU Appreciation, said the program tries to give students the opportunity to give thanks for their family, friends, professors and organizations.
“It is very easy for students to go through their normal day and forget to thank people for the little things,” she said.
Johnsen, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said the first event was held last month at Stonier Hall on the College Avenue campus. Students watched a video presentation on how to say thank you. After, they wrote mini-letters and decorated bears to give out.
“Our goal is to have RU Appreciation spread to every campus,” she said. “We did our first event on College Avenue so we want to get it all the campuses as well as different organizations such as the Off-Campus Student Association.”
Johnsen said she wants to spread community service in different ways at Rutgers because of her dedication to it.
“I’ve been involved in community service since middle school,” she said. “I started this program called ‘Just For Kicks’ that teaches kids with disabilities to play soccer. I’ve worked in senior citizen homes and with Hurricane Sandy disaster reliefs. I also went on an alternative breaks with Rutgers last spring break for Hurricane Sandy relief.”
Sabrina Lauredent, a “Service Day” chair for the Student Volunteer Council, helped develop the idea of RU Appreciation. She wanted to show how it is possible to serve the community on campus. She believes RU Appreciation is the cheapest and easiest way to get involved in community service.
“I just wanted to show people that they didn’t need to get up and out of their dorms to make a difference in the community.” she said.
Lauredent, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said RU Appreciation came about after watching a YouTube video called “Johnny the Bagger.” The video talks about how a bagger at a supermarket came up with the idea to put encouraging notes in the bags at check out.
Using the video as an inspiration to the program, RU Appreciation aims to give back to the community in a simple, encouraging and optimistic way, she said.
She believes the on-campus presence of RU Appreciation serves as a reminder that people can serve their community at home or simply by saying “thank you.”
Lauredent said she happily helped launch the new service program. The response from the first session was positive, so she hopes it will move to other campuses where they can meet once a month.
“I just want it to start off by showing people the power of thank you. We reinforce the idea of how much a thank-you helps and by sharing stories,” she said. “I hope it becomes something.”
Yamila Nicasio, one of the directors of SVC, said she helps with overseeing the council. She hopes the program will cause Rutgers to recognize an “RU Appreciation” day.
“Everyone knows of football days, homecoming week or ‘Rutgers Day.’ Maybe we could have a day where everyone in every department knows that it is a day of appreciation,” she said. “In addition, I would just love for people to offer small changes everyday and truly have it be a conscious thing.”
Nicasio, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior, said this is a great idea because students do not seem to appreciate everything they have at Rutgers. It pushes students to think about everything they may not realize and be thankful for it.
“It allows student to think about why things happen, like why we walk into our residence halls and is it clean all the time. Or how the dishes get clean in the dining halls,” she said. “Things that we don’t really think about on a daily basis — this gives the opportunity to think about it.”