by CLAUDIA GUERRERO
Homecoming week this year looked a little different compared to previous years as the first ever Homecoming Day of Service was held on Friday, Oct. 20. This year’s homecoming week consisted of the usual events that students have seen many times before, like the Casino Night, Carnival, and homecoming Court. For the first time, students got to experience what it is like to give back to the community as a homecoming activity.
Sarah Cirelli, special events coordinator for Student Productions, who was in charge of Homecoming Week, said she wanted this year’s Homecoming to have a twist for the better.
“I wanted to change it up and do a day of service to get more involved and give back to the community for a change,” Cirelli said.
Student productions had been collecting donations all throughout the week at other Homecoming events. Cirelli said that having students donate and actually sign up for the event was a bit of a challenge.
“The obstacle I did face was getting students to sign up for community service early in the morning and on a Friday. If this event continues for Homecoming I would recommend to the next chairperson to spread the word sooner and collect donations sooner,” Cirelli said.
Cirelli mentioned that she chose Metropolitan Ministries for the event to bring awareness to a local non-profit that could use more attention. “I wanted students to be exposed to a nonprofit that is less well-known in the Tampa area to get a better understanding of their mission and goals and hopefully get students to want to volunteer again,” said Cirelli.
Students gathered around 8 a.m in the Vaughn lobby as they waited to be transported to Metropolitan Ministries, a community based non-profit organization that has locations in Pinellas, Pasco, Polk and Hillsborough counties. The Hillsborough location, the one the students visited, is just seven minutes away from campus.
This organization aims to care for the homeless in a variety of ways, including providing clothing and hygiene products for members of the community. As soon as the students arrived, they were asked to sign in to their computers. UT students spent the rest of their Friday morning helping with organizing these items, along with sorting out and tagging the clothing items for the organization’s thrift store, and creating goody bags for the organization’s sponsors.
The students were split into groups assessing the organization’s employees with different tasks. Every so often the workers vocalized their appreciation for the students being there and for Heather Franczkowski, M.S in Exercise and Nutrition Science, that was what made the experience so special.
“My favorite part of the experience was seeing how much the people who worked there appreciated our help. Just knowing that I made a small difference today makes it so worth it,” Franczkowski said.
Rosalie Edmonds, another M.S in Exercise and Nutrition Science student, said she thought this change in Homecoming week was a great way for the UT students to give back to the community that has given them so much.
“I decided to go to this community service event because Tampa has given me many opportunities as a graduate student and I love any opportunity to give back,” said Edmonds.
Given the fact that only 6 students attended the community service day, both Edmonds and Franczkowski agreed that the timing of the event should have been different.
For more information contact Claudia Guerrero at firstname.lastname@example.org