After the skies cleared and rain stopped, on Friday September 11th and Saturday September 12th, 103 Wheaton students traveled to seven community partner sites as a part of the Wheaton Cares Weekend of Service. Working in accordance with the National Days of Service, this program honors the victims of 9/11 with two days of service trips coordinated by the Office of Service, Spirituality and Social Responsibility (SSSR) and the Office of Alumnae/i Relations. These service projects also add to President Hanno’s Wheaton Cares Initiative, where President Hanno encourages members of the Wheaton community to complete fifteen hours of community service.
This year, students volunteered at the Capron Park Zoo, Norton Reservoir, Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB), Rhode Island Women’s Center, Norton Head Start, and Crystal Springs Earth Learning Center in Plainville. Service trips like these allow students to serve the local community and strengthen bonds with organizations outside of Wheaton. Unique to the 2015 days of service, current Wheaton students were able to connect with alumnae/i who attended designated service trips, like the GBFB, providing a way for students to get to know Wheaties from the past by networking over lunch. Also at the GBFB, the volunteers, including President Hanno, sorted 5,326 pounds of canned food and other items that flow through the building each day, making 4,349 meals possible.
Members of the Feminist Association at Wheaton (FAW), traveled to the Rhode Island Women’s Center to clean and build a sandbox that was gifted to the children who reside there. Numerous Wheaton students also walked down the street to Head Start, a local preschool for low income families, to get classrooms ready for the new school year.
Volunteers at Crystal Spring cleared trash from a stream bed and harvested produce from the garden. This Earth Learning Center advocates for Earth literacy with educational programs designed to enhance the community’s perception of the unique relationship between human and Earth. Thanked for their service, Wheaton volunteers were gifted with fresh apples, popcorn, and baked goods made by the nuns of the ministry of the Dominican Sisters of Peace who live there!
Similarly, the Wheaton Swim team at the Norton Reservoir banks filled trash bags with refuse and carried the bags out, making the area safer for wildlife and improving the aesthetic value of the local environment. One Norton resident was so inspired by the hard work he saw that he not only joined the students in cleaning but also donated a trash can to the area, pledging to come back each week and carry out the trash.
Through their involvement with service, students learn how to collectively address community issues and communicate with others in mutually beneficial ways where solutions, even those as plain as cleaning and sorting, bring awareness and ignite a passion for the areas we inhabit.