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Students serve community as part of the herd

More than 2,000 volunteers packed into Martin Luther King (MLK) Plaza on a cold and wet Saturday morning to serve their community. Those who could arrive by 8 a.m. were given Cinnabon lattes, cups of juice and muffins to provide them with energy for the work ahead.

These students participated in the Stampede of Service (SOS) – one of USF’s largest volunteer events. The day kicked off “USF Service Week 2008,” an event organized annually by the Center for Civic Engagement and Volunteerism (CCEV).

“This is a significant event which USF puts on every year that allows students to come together in a large group setting and help the community,” said Andrew Quecan, a volunteer from the Kosove Society. “That’s why I like doing it. You get to meet a lot of new people and work together.”

More than 30 teams participated in this year’s SOS. Most teams were led by student organizations such as the Pre-med American Medical Student Association, the Honors College, the Office of Undergraduate Research and various Greek organizations. Independent volunteers also came out to participate in SOS. Some teams had buses provided by the University while others organized their own transportation.

Groups set out on buses or in carpools to their service sites.

Teams 20 and 21, which included independent volunteers and student organizations such as The National Association of Black Accountants and The Kosove Society, were dispatched to Rowlett Park to help the staff build more than100 parking spots.

Rowlett Park, located on Yukon Street just south of campus off of Busch Boulevard, is a popular destination for many Tampa area families as it has tennis courts, nature trails, covered pavilions and a dog park.

The original parking spots built at the park were constructed of wood and had disintegrated. The new spots were being constructed out of cement barriers and 2-foot pieces of reinforced steel bars, hammered through holes in the concrete and driven into the ground.

Rowlett Park has a small staff, so the extra hands were much appreciated by the park’s workforce. Many visitors to the park were inquisitive about the work and a curious few approached volunteers to ask what they were doing.

In between the ringing of metal hitting metal, students could be heard conversing about their classes, social lives and jobs as they worked together for the common cause.

After they completed their work, many students crowded into the basement of the Marshall Center for pizza and drinks.

The CCEV will hold events all week, including the Service Week Rally on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Marshall Center Ballroom. The Rally will let students know about upcoming service events and will feature door prizes and free food for those who attend.