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ISSUE 121 VOL 18 PUBLISHED 4/25/2008

Service fosters connection

By Mara Fink
Associate Editor

Friday, April 25, 2008

The St. Olaf spirit of service extended into communities all over the country Saturday, as over 200 alums and current students in the Minneapolis area alone participated in the third annual National Day of Service.

Other sites around the country were Seattle, Denver, Chicago, Madison, Owatonna, and Washington D.C. At each of these sites volunteers participated in a wide variety of activities ranging from spring cleaning and gardening at local parks to sorting food at local food shelves.

Anne Steeves '10 volunteered at Emergency Community Services in Minneapolis where she sorted food and cleaned the facility. As one of the coordinators of the event, Steeves said that she hoped the experience would leave a lasting impact on the Oles who participated.

"I hope we realize how fortunate we are to have the St Olaf community and how easy it is to serve others," she said. "I have gone on Ole Spring Relief the past two years to help with Katrina relief. That trip is a week of hard work and is very rewarding. Day of service is only a morning, but was rewarding much like Ole Spring Relief. You don't need to spend a lot of time helping others to make a difference. When students and alumni come together, we can really do a lot and build a connection with one another."

This connection between alumni and students was one of the highlights of the Day of Service. Out of the approximately 200 Oles who volunteered at the Minneapolis sites, 170 of them were alumni.

Kelly Hawley '10, who also helped coordinate the event, said that this was her favorite part of the day, and something she hopes other students benefited from.

"There are two things I hoped each student who participated would take away from the event. First, I hoped students would feel that their Saturday morning was well spent and that they felt a sense of accomplishment from participating in the event. Second, as a member of Student Alumni Association, I hoped that the event would provide the students the opportunity to interact and connect with the participating alumni," she said.

Victor Wong '08 also volunteered at the event, raking at the Pioneers and Soldiers Historical Cemetery in Minneapolis. He brought his two younger cousins, who are in the midst of college hunting, along with him. Wong said this experience set an example of the nature of service that is so prevalent among St. Olaf students.

"I knew they would get a great dose of that elusive Ole atmosphere that students and alum refer to and I was right. They got to meet current students, as well as alums and see the extent to which St. Olaf impacts those who go through it. Regardless of whether or not they decide to come to St. Olaf, through this event, I really realized how important service is to the college and how ingrained it has become in me," he said.

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