November 17, 2019

University club partners with mayor for community service day

SGA President Sarah Hill said students have been looking for ways to become involved since the postponement of Webster Works Worldwide.

The city of Webster Groves will participate in the national Make A Difference Day on Oct. 26. Make A Difference Day is a national holiday for community service. Webster Groves has participated in the event for almost 20 years.

Mayor Gerry Welch has been mayor of Webster Groves since the founding of Make A Difference Day in 1992 by USA Weekend magazine. She said that an average of 500 residents participate every year.

Welch said each year has a variety of projects to get involved with. For instance, the Webster-Kirkwood Times teams up with Rock Hill Ministry and Nurses for Newborns to host a drive for food and diapers at the Recreation Complex. 

This year’s big project, Welch said, is assembling an army of volunteers to clear honeysuckle bushes from Deer Creek Park.

Webster Groves Mayor Gerry Welch said she would like to see the participation rate of Webster students rise at this years Make A Difference Day. Welch has been the mayor of Webster Groves since the event began over 20 years ago.

“Most cities would just jump for joy to have something as beautiful as that creek, and over the years, we have neglected it,” Welch said. “Now people are really seeing it as an asset, so that cleanup of vines and honeysuckle is going to be a big part of that.”

Welch said she would like more participation from university students. She mentioned that a food drive would be something easy for students to do and get local grocery stores involved as well. 

Since the postponement of Webster Works Worldwide (WWW), university students have been looking for ways to get engaged in the community, according to Sarah Hill, president of the Student Government Association and the community service club, Impact.

“I wanted this to be a place where students can come and find places to volunteer even if it’s not a large group effort,” Hill said. “I also want to serve as a resource for students who are looking to do independent volunteering and do things on their own, or even student organizations that want to find ways to volunteer within the community.”

The club’s advisor, Jennifer Starkey, director of community engagement. Starkey said that Make A Difference Day would be a great time to get Impact started. For the past two years, she said she has worked with the city of Webster Groves to find more ways to get the university engaged with the community.

“They have activities that are enjoyable for all age groups and all activity levels so students could be helping out at Nurses for Newborns, doing work in their office or they could be cleaning up honeysuckle for the parks department,” Starkey said. “It really just depends upon what students are interested in doing.”

Hill said when she first came to the university, there was a serious lack of any service outside of WWW. 

“At this point the easiest way for students to get involved with volunteerism is through Impact,” Starkey said. “The volunteerism committee is meeting and will soon work on a plan for keeping volunteerism alive on campus.”

Hill said her only concern is the lack of publicity Impact has had. Despite low turnouts at previous events she said she has high hopes for Make A Difference Day

Regardless, Welch said she and the community are excited to connect more with university students. 

“There are so many needs in the community and your young heads and bodies are really useful to do some good work,” Welch said.

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