More than 900 students sacrificed their Saturday morning in order to volunteer for Stampede of Service ’06, a massive project designed to help the East Tampa community.
The project, organized by Student Government and Volunteer USF, was one of the largest in USF’s history. The event was to commemorate USF’s 50th anniversary and Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“We are here to help rebuild Tampa and unite the community,” student body President Maxon Victor said.
Students were assigned to different groups and then taken by buses to various neighborhoods and parks around the East Tampa area. Students removed trash from neighborhoods, community parks, a basketball court and a retention pond. Students also planted bushes and trees in front of community centers and throughout parks and neighborhoods.
Students arrived at 8 a.m. outside of the Phyllis P. Marshall Center to muffins and orange juice and a performance by the USF Herd of Thunder marching band.
Students were also motivated by a few speeches that helped gear them up for the work ahead.
“This day is about service – it’s what we do that really matters,” Victor said to the crowd of students before they loaded onto buses.
Some students had the future in mind when getting involved.
“I got involved (with this project) because when people drive by places like this, they often don’t see beautiful plants (or) a park looking nice, but (instead things look) kind of ragged. But years from now when people drive by and see these plants and knowing that I had something to do with it, that is an awesome feeling,” SG and Volunteer USF member Sarah Green said.
During the trash cleanup of a retention pond on Ragan Park, students removed some rather large items such as a wooden door and a shopping cart. According to Green, there was another shopping cart in the pond but students chose not to remove it because there was a school of fish inhabiting it.
“It’s amazing how nature adapts,” Green said.
The students who participated said service work is an important opportunity for one to give back to the community and many found it to have been a rewarding experience.
“I wanted to come out and volunteer to give back to the community,” junior Magalie Frederic said. “I feel like I do a lot of things for myself, (through this event) I have a chance to give back to the community.”
Members of the community watched from their porches and some asked how they could get involved.
“It has been real rewarding for me,” Victor said. “I was approached by two kids who weren’t in college and they asked me what was going on – and (after telling them about the event) they said that they wanted to help out, and that is what the idea is all about, to partner with the community, it’s just a real awarding feeling.”
Volunteer USF Coordinator Amy Simon said that their organization and SG had been working on the SOS ’06 project since last summer and she was pleased with how the event turned out. Both Simon and Victor hope to make this service project an annual event.