Time to stampede, Bulls!
Click here to read more about USF Week events, including a pool party, Bullstock and Rocky’s Birthday Bash. 

My first time: Stampede of Service

Getting up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday never feels right, even if the reasons behind the early wakeup call may be honorable.

It was my first time joining in on Stampede of Service. As I approached MLK Plaza, the participants of USF’s largest day of service were hard to see through the misty rain, but they definitely were not inaudible.

The check-in procedures could not have been easier: Grab a nametag, shirt, free juice and 500-calorie muffins, and then off to meet with the respective groups.

My group, composed of members of the co-ed professional engineering fraternity Theta Tau, was assigned to Simply Spring of Tampa Bay, a thrift store in downtown Tampa.

Upon arrival, I realized we weren’t the only volunteers there, and it was evident that this was no ordinary second-hand shop.

Simply Spring is associated with The Spring of Tampa Bay, a shelter and sanctuary for abused adults and their children. All of the proceeds from Simply Spring – along with the Spring Vintage Boutique – are donated to the operating costs of the shelter.

The volunteer staff at Simply Spring put us to work immediately. My task, which involved sorting incoming donations and hanging them in their proper places, felt harder than it looked. The staff at Simply Spring is very particular about only offering the best quality items at their store, leaving us to sort through what was wearable and what wasn’t, as well as sorting items by color.

It was refreshing, however, that the clothes that weren’t put on the shelves still had a purpose – they were shipped to people in need in developing countries.

On my break, I was able to catch a glimpse of the donation process.

Honestly, I had been in the dark about Simply Spring and its counterparts until this day, so it came as a surprise to me to see the amount of donations coming in. It seemed that every minute someone new was driving up.

One man even brought a U-Haul truck to schlep several mattresses for donations. Of course, at the sight of the truck pulling up, everyone decided it was time for a break.

On our breaks, we were offered the option of shopping around a bit. Since I’m a thrift store junkie, a few items had already caught my eye. I didn’t feel so bad about spending the money that should be going to my Feed Jenni Fund, but who can pass up 99-cent clothes?

Besides the cheap attire, I got more out of this than I had expected. When we left the store – feeling good about ourselves for doing good and ready to indulge in the free food back on campus – I couldn’t help but think about the people at the shelter, those benefiting from the work I did that day. Even the volunteers, those not associated with a program, had come on their own time to lend a hand.

I hope that all the students who participated won’t leave their humanitarian efforts to one day a year, and will go back and finish what they started during the Stampede of Service.