Hilltop Views

Hilltoppers volunteer at 5 nonprofits with S.E.R.V.E 1 Day

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"It made me realize how hard people work to make the food we eat everyday," Freshman Anthony Fischer, a psychology major, said. "Since the whole garden is [made with] compost, it shows the surplus of food that we have that gets thrown out."

"It made me realize how hard people work to make the food we eat everyday," Freshman Anthony Fischer, a psychology major, said. "Since the whole garden is [made with] compost, it shows the surplus of food that we have that gets thrown out."

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Ninety-five Hilltoppers volunteered with a citywide program organized by the Office of Community Engagement the weekend before Thanksgiving.

Dispersed among five nonprofit locations, volunteers with the Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Service Project participated in activities like sorting canned goods, filtering compost purposed for a community garden and clearing trails at a horse ranch.

A member of the Social Justice LLC, freshman Elise Foraday volunteered at Healing with Horses Ranch, a therapeutic riding center. According to the nonprofit’s website, the ranch offers Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies to those in need.

“I wouldn’t have been able to volunteer here, I wouldn’t have known about [Healing with Horses] without St. Ed’s,” Foraday said. “I thought it was really powerful.”

Students also volunteered at Emerald Wood Community Garden, Community First Village, El Buen Samaritano and, at home on the hilltop, St. Edward’s Thanksgiving food drive.

Freshman Anthony Fischer went to Emerald Wood Community Garden with group four where he and fellow volunteers planted trees, and moved and filtered mulch.

“It made me realize how hard people work to make the food we eat everyday,” Fischer, a psychology major, said. “Since the whole garden is compost, it shows the surplus of food that we have that gets thrown out.”

Another volunteer, sophomore Ariana Reyes stayed on campus to serve with the St. Edward’s Thanksgiving Food Drive. For Reyes, social issues like food insecurity hit home.

She said that there was a point in her family’s history when she was ill, so her mother quit her job to take care of her. With only Reyes’ dad to support the family, sometimes making ends meet looked like paying $10 towards a utility bill and knowing it wasn’t enough.

“I think what I’ve learned is that it’s good to give back. What I’ve been taught growing up is, if I’m blessed enough to have it, I’m blessed enough to give it back,” Reyes said. “Not everybody has what we have.”

An employee at HEB, Reyes regularly volunteers with the grocery store, logging about 40 hours last semester. Though she said she’s volunteered less this semester, the social work major said her passion is helping others at events like S.E.R.V.E.

In its third year at St. Edward’s, S.E.R.V.E. 1 Day and its initiatives are determined by a group student coordinators. This year, the office hosted a first-year service project in September and a Founders Day in October, followed by the Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Service Project in November.

Carly Badke, a program coordinator with the Office of Community Engagement, said the day of service was a way for students to see the poverty, hunger and homelessness that is around Austin.

“A lot of the time we become sheltered being on a campus and seeing all the cool, fun things in Austin that we forget that just down the street there are people who, sometimes for reasons out of their control, find themselves in situations where they need help getting a basic meal or housing.”

Badke added, “We wanted to give students a productive space to see first-hand issues in Austin. And we’re hoping that students today can build relationships with each other and with the nonprofits that they are working with.”

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Hilltoppers volunteer at 5 nonprofits with S.E.R.V.E 1 Day