Wooster Volunteer Network (WVN) held its first Weekend of Service last Saturday, April 23 and Sunday, April 24. Students had the opportunity to volunteer at various locations in Wooster and surrounding communities by participating in various service projects, including gardening, sorting clothes at Goodwill and trail maintenance at Wooster Memorial Park. WVN wanted to give Wooster students a chance to volunteer with their peers and to be outside, both of which make doing community service more fun. Since WVN typically hosts Rake-A-Difference in the fall, WVN wanted to host a larger spring event as well, something they have not done in years past.
While the Weekend of Service occurred in April, planning for the event began back in January. The board members formed small groups and were tasked with finding a community partner that they were interested in volunteering with. Some members in charge of coordinating transportation to and from the volunteer locations as well as purchasing snacks. Excited about the new event, a few organizations reached out to WVN after they heard about the Weekend of Service, allowing more students to participate and engage with the greater Wooster community.
The first stop of the weekend took students to Buckeye Street Garden. At the site, they pulled weeds, tilled dirt and chatted with community members about the importance of gardening. The Buckeye Street Garden is open to residents to plant whatever they’d like, whether that be veggies or flowers. Buckeye Street gardeners only have to pay for the plants and regularly tend to their garden box — everything else is taken care of for them. Berry bushes line the back wall of the garden, which the director remarked, brings about a battle of the berries between the children who live on the street and the birds.
A closer look reveals the garden does more than bring the community together, but it promotes sustainable living. The gardens provide substantial food for the neighborhood all year round. Not only can the vegetables be eaten fresh, they can also be preserved for later use. Additionally, rainwater is caught from the house next to the garden and is there for all to use.
Lily Anderson ’23, Vice President of WVN, stated that “all the organizations we worked with over our Weekend of Service were welcoming, and our student volunteers brought so much enthusiasm to each event.” She was happy to give students the chance to do good in the area in addition to having fun with their fellow classmates outside of an academic setting. Rachel Semel ’22, the outgoing president of WVN, wants to give a “big thanks to everyone who attended this weekend.” She added, “our community partners were so grateful, and we had a lot of fun!” Semel said that it was rewarding to leave the locations and reflect upon the group accomplishments and how many people it would benefit.
Local organizations appreciate having passionate college students lend a hand bridging the distance between students and the town. Anderson says, “Opportunities like this help bridge the gap between the college community and the greater Wooster community with a common goal of helping others.”
If a student wants to do more volunteering or get involved with WVN, they should email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow them on Instagram @wooster_volunteer_network. Local organizations are always looking for regular volunteers as well, so don’t hesitate to reach out to one!