More than 2,000 first-year students at the University of Maine took part in the seventh annual Welcome Weekend Day of Service on Saturday, Aug. 27.

The Bodwell Center for Service and Volunteerism coordinates the Welcome Weekend Day of Service on the first weekend students are on campus to provide opportunities to learn about the community and classmates while giving back.

Community service is an important part of UMaine’s culture, said Lisa Morin, coordinator of the Bodwell Center, and the projects offered during the event demonstrate how volunteering can enhance the UMaine experience.

The projects also facilitate time for students to bond with others in their residence hall while providing valuable assistance to community organizations, Morin said.

Led by 160 UMaine students, faculty and staff, first-year students participated in more than 55 local, regional and international service projects on and off campus.

Projects included grounds work at Hirundo Wildlife Refuge in Alton, Leonard’s Mills/Maine Forest and Logging Museum in Bradley, Orono Land Trust, and Maine Veterans’ Home in Bangor; cleanup of the UMaine bike paths, downtown Orono, UMaine’s J. Franklin Witter Teaching and Research Center, and Harold Alfond Sports Arena and Stadium; gardening at Fort Knox in Bucksport and community gardens in Orono, Hermon and Bangor; collecting donations and staffing information booths at the American Folk Festival in Bangor; playground maintenance at schools in Bangor, Alton and Old Town; cooking casseroles to be delivered to guests of the Ronald McDonald House in Bangor; washing and restocking Down East Emergency Medical Institute (DEEMI) vehicles in Orono; creating fleece tie blankets for children who are homeless or in foster care; writing greeting cards and letters of encouragement to soldiers; and packing meal, birthday, hygiene and school kits.

Morin says although it is great to visit the same organizations annually, new projects also are being added every year. New projects this year included assisting the Bangor Parks and Recreation Department and the Alton School Department with maintenance of playgrounds and trails.

“Alton is a very small school and teachers with great ideas can struggle to find volunteers to help. UMaine students will be spending two hours completing work on their new walking trails that would probably take the staff and parents a whole weekend,” Morin said.

Last year, approximately 1,900 first-year students volunteered for nearly 60 projects and logged 4,140 hours of service.

UMaine was one of 240 colleges and universities in the United States selected to receive the 2015 Community Engagement Classification of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The classification, which is valid until 2025, recognizes colleges and universities with an institutional focus on community engagement.

The day  ended with the President’s annual Dinner on the Mall.


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