Rutgers students ‘spring’ into service

<p>Keerthana Kanth, a volunteer at “Spring into Service,” uses a shovel to help with the cleaning of the Rutgers-New Brunswick area.</p>

Keerthana Kanth, a volunteer at “Spring into Service,” uses a shovel to help with the cleaning of the Rutgers-New Brunswick area.

Student-run “Spring into Service” gave students the opportunity to work for the betterment of the Rutgers community.

One hundred students donned in red shirts congregated in the Student Activities Center on the College Avenue campus on Saturday to take part in the service event.

The event focuses on giving back to New Brunswick, said Kayla Tlatelpa, a School of Arts and Sciences senior. Service programs often benefit surrounding areas, but the main focus of the event is the Rutgers-New Brunswick campus.

Volunteers work in waves, as one group of student is arriving, one is eating lunch and another is on its way to a service program. This way, more students can be servicing the New Brunswick community.

Ariel Velicky and Kristine Naputo volunteered on Saturday.

Velicky, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said she recently went to Washington D.C. to participate in an alternative break and community service.

She said she met and talked to people that she would probably have never talked to otherwise, and that she was so grateful for the experience.

“We heard about this through SVC, the Student Volunteer Council,” she said. “It’s a great way to see a positive change in the environment. We believe the changes are made with us.”

SVC provides students with opportunities to participate in community service events during the school year. Recent events have included “Scarlet Day of Service,” “Winter Wishes” and “Give Back New Brunswick,” according to their website.

The SVC aims to develop, plan and implement different community service initiatives at Rutgers, including monthly half-day service programs. The council is made up of six committees, one specifically designated for Service Day.

Tlatelpa and Monica Hanna, a graduate student at the University, were two of the four main organizers of “Spring into Service.”

“It’s a great day filled with service,” said Tlatelpa. “We really try to focus on services in the New Brunswick area.”

What motivates Hanna is seeing others want to change the world around them. She said it is difficult to not want to get involved with community service.

“Just to see this is totally worth the whole experience,” she said.

Tlatelpa said seeing other students get excited and involved in the community was worth the time and effort it took to organize the event.

The idea of spring-cleaning inspired the event, Tlatelpa said. Along with cleaning out closets and starting fresh, projects like “Spring into Service” offer the opportunity to “spring clean” the environment and the community.

Last year, students went down to the beach to try and recover the devastation after Hurricane Sandy.

Naputo, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said the event was great for community building.

“It’s great to spend time with other people who take part in other community service activities.”

Hanna said it was great to see students giving up their Saturday to help out the community.

“It is so rewarding to see that other people are just as enthusiastic about helping the community and giving back as you are,” she said. “It’s great to be a student and member of an organization that gives back.”

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