As dawn broke Saturday morning, more than 1,500 students crawled out of bed and made their way to campus to participate in USF’s largest community service project.
While the temperature may have been low, spirits were high. By 8:15 a.m. the courtyard next to the Phyllis P. Marshall Center was packed with eager volunteers gladly layering the provided SOS T-shirts over whatever they had on.
“The turnout is tired, ugly and cold, but massive and successful,” student body president Frank Harrison said.
Volunteer USF sponsors the Stampede of Service in conjunction with Student Government and the Center for Civic Engagement and Volunteerism.
Bass-heavy upbeat tunes pumped through large speakers, and eventually a portion of the Herd of Thunder marching band took to the stage accompanied by cheerleaders and Sun Dolls.
University President Judy Genshaft gave a brief speech highlighting that USF students do a combined 85,000 hours of community service every year and that the Stampede of Service has caused USF to be listed by the Carnegie Commission as one of the schools most involved in its community. She concluded her address by leading the assembly in a two-part Stampede of Service chant.
Harrison followed Genshaft’s speech, thanking all present for their attendance.”As you go out this morning and pick up trash, plant trees and do things that may not seem like they are making that much of a difference as you do them, I’d ask you to remember that it is symbolic of what we do and it is symbolic of our commitment to the community,” Harrison said.
At the conclusion of the speeches, students were divided into groups and directed toward a fleet of busses that would drive them to 40 different sites spread throughout Hillsborough County, more than twice as many sites as SOS visited last year. SOS coordinator Maxon Victor estimated that attendance was at least 50 percent higher than last year.
Hope Children’s Home
Hope Children’s Home is a place for children who have been discarded, abused, unwanted, or orphaned. The facility covers 45 acres, provides kindergarten- to college-level education, and has dormitories that can house up to 80 children but only one maintenance man. Ten student organizations teamed up to give him a helping hand.
Some painted, some picked up trash, some spread mulch and others cleaned chairs, tables and vehicles.
In the end, site leader Jesse Schafer tallied up the accomplishments of the volunteers, concluding they had laid 600 lineal feet of mulching beds with timbers and 18 yards of mulch, painted more than 400 lineal feet of exterior wall with almost 50 gallons of paint, moved 150 feet of concrete curbing and three semi loads full of equipment from behind the maintenance shop, created two complete playground areas and cleaned more than 150 chairs and 40 tables. Combined, the effort totaled 720 working hours – or two and a half months – worth of work, which at industry standard pay rates would have cost $25,000.
The project ended at 1 p.m., at which point the tired students were bussed back to campus and greeted with a catered after party with food provided by a variety of local vendors.
Dean of Students Kevin Banks praised the impact that the volunteers made on their on community.
“It’s the ripple effect. It’s giving our students the opportunity to make an impact on someone else’s life, and that’s going to improve the human condition in general and it makes the world a better place.”