Volunteers gathered in Pelletier Library to help with 18 projects in the Meadville Area on Saturday, Sept. 24, at 8:30 a.m, as part of the monthly Service Saturday event.
“We had a lot of different projects for students to do depending on their interests,” said Gabrielle Bradshaw, a Lake Effect Leader.
Lake Effect Leaders is an Americorps VISTA project where various colleges work together to focus on community empowerment. Students signed up individually or in groups for Service Saturday beforehand, and arrived to join any open group project led by assigned group leaders.
One of those projects was to help the Meadville Community Theatre. Students helped set up a haunted house for the month of October and signed up to participate in it. Other students collected apples for the horses in Mystic Mountain, a training center in Cambridge Springs, while others made apple cider.
Emily Evans, ’19, volunteers on a weekly basis at Hog Heaven. To her, Service Saturday is both an outlet and a doorway to understand, cooperate and create friendships between the Allegheny and Meadville communities. On Service Saturday, Evans participated in a wood-staining project with members of the Union Latinx club.
“Meadville is an amazing place; you just have to give it the chance,” said Evans. “I think that by selflessly serving with the people who live in town is the best way to see things from their perspective. We did, after all, come into their town. Not the other way around.”
Bradshaw said involvement in Service Saturday not only creates a connection with the Meadville community but can teach people a lot about themselves.
“You have the possibility of finding something you might be passionate about and there is a lot to gain from service events intrinsically,” said Bradshaw. “It is about reciprocation in terms of helping the community, and, by that, you can learn to be civic-minded.”
Manuel Marquez, ’17, works primarily at the Martin Luther King Mentoring Program and has done more than seven Service Saturday projects in previous years. He was assigned to the project led by Evans.
“I think that events like Service Saturday are essential for Allegheny students to really get to know the community around,” said Marquez. “Escape your bubble and get to know your neighbor. They don’t bite, I promise.”
Preparations for Make a Difference Day are already underway. Make a Difference Day is a Meadville-wide day of service.
“This is your home for the next four years, and it’s really easy to get caught up in the college bubble,” said Bradshaw. “When you come to a school like Allegheny that places such an emphasis on service work, what a better way for the students to learn about Meadville then have them go out there and complete a service project. Meadville is not a college town. It’s a town with a college in it.”