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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Fifth annual Celebrate Service, Celebrate Allegany draws 300 student volunteers

Alfred State students Brittany Richards, left, a forensic science technology major from Geneseo, and Ryan McGillicuddy, a
human services management major from Eden, helped clean and organize at Healing Waters, a community center in
Belmont, during the 2016 Celebrate Service, Celebrate Allegany event.

Celebrate Service, Celebrate Allegany kicked off its fifth year this past Saturday and proved to be a huge success, as approximately 300 student volunteers from Alfred State, Alfred University, and Houghton College came together to engage in community service projects throughout Allegany County.
Students from all three institutions gathered at their respective colleges and were transported to pre-arranged service locations. At sites throughout much of Allegany County, students worked on projects ranging from outdoor activities such fall cleaning, as well as indoor projects such as preparing meals, assembling aid packages, and painting. Overall, 300 volunteers served in 31 projects in 10 different communities.
Alfred State Student Senate President Katherine Holmok, a business administration major from Prattsville, spoke to the important role that the local communities play in students’ lives, and why it is so important to give back.
“Students recognize that the communities in which their colleges reside will be responsible for some of the fondest memories and greatest times of their lives,” she said. “As Student Senate president, I see examples every day of how much our students love Alfred, and how eager they are to give back to the communities that are nurturing them. Celebrate Service, Celebrate Allegany provides a wonderful opportunity for students around the county to demonstrate how much we care on a larger and more visible scale.”
Houghton College Alumni and Community Engagement Director Phyllis Gaerte noted, “What excites me the most when I drive around to check in on students at the different community project sites, is the great conversation and relationship building that happens between students who are serving a common purpose and with the community partner that they are working alongside of. There is no better way to get to know your neighbors.”
Five years ago, a group from Leadership Allegany organized the inaugural service day. The vision of this event has been to build relationships between students and community members, enhance student exposure to the county beyond the confines of the campus, and deliver meaningful help to public and non-profit organizations.
Over the past four years, more than 1,700 students have participated, investing over 10,200 hours of service to Allegany County communities during just this annual day of service alone. This day is scheduled each year on Make A Difference Day - the largest single national day of community service. And locally, the Allegany County Board of Legislators again issued a proclamation making Oct. 22 Make A Difference Day in the county and recognizing the service of volunteers.
Corey Fecteau, service learning coordinator for Alfred University, believes that ”volunteering on Make A Difference Day helps our students better understand Allegany County, their home-away-from-home while they are attending college.” As a result of this event, “Students are prepared to engage meaningfully with their current and future communities.”
The impact of Celebrate Service, Celebrate Allegany goes far beyond a single day, however. For students, it is a way to illustrate and develop a culture and lifestyle of community service, which they will hopefully carry with them throughout their tenure as students and into their lives post-education. For local communities, it enables important tasks, projects, and events to get a jump-start, make significant progress, or come to fruition.
The three institutions rely on donations to help pay for necessary supplies, T-shirts, and transportation for the day of service. This year, financial and in-kind support was graciously provided by Otis Eastern Service, Leadership Allegany, The Greater Allegany Chamber of Commerce, Allegany County Area Foundation, Auxiliary Campus Enterprises and Services (ACES), Cuba Fillmore Fisher’s Pharmacies, Allegany County United Way, Swain Ski Resort, and Alfred Sports Center.
For more information about the Celebrate Service, Celebrate Allegany day of service, please visit www.celebrateallegany.com.