Kissed by Mother Nature, Annual Community Service Day Returns With in-Person, Virtual Events
Neha Katanguri, a freshman from Glenelg, Md., piles up invasive plants she’s pulled out while volunteering at Lake Artemesia for Good Neighbor Day on Saturday. She was among 373 participants in virtual and in-person events on the ninth annual day of volunteer service.
A golden Saturday in November bore award-worthy results, as more than 350 Terps united to beautify, feed and enrich the local community.
The ninth annual Good Neighbor Day, a day of service in Greater College Park, was postponed from its usual April date by the pandemic, then reimagined for this past weekend with a schedule of 10 in-person and 13 virtual events.
This first-of-its kind hybrid schedule, put together by the University of Maryland, the city of College Park and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, featured cleanups in parks, bike trails, the university’s Community Learning Garden and other shared spaces. Virtual workshops, broadcast via Zoom, covered topics including youth leadership, mental health, social justice and more.
Jose Cadiz, lead coordinator for the UMD Office of Community Engagement, said he hadn’t even realized how much he needed a day like Saturday, to give back and to feel a sense of togetherness in the community.
"I visited projects and was met with smiling faces behind Good Neighbor Day masks and a look in their eyes that they were so happy to be there to serve,” he said.
A food drive to support the UMD Campus Pantry and College Park Food Bank brought in approximately 1,500 pounds of nonperishable items to combat food insecurity, which has become an even greater challenge for families during the pandemic. Sixty student-athletes volunteered at IKEA on the unusually warm day at the drive-up food donation drop-off.
Gloria Aparicio-Blackwell, director of the UMD Office of Community Engagement, said Good Neighbor Day went smoothly at a time when so much feels unsettled.
“I had the opportunity to talk to some of the volunteers and they were excited to be doing something good on a beautiful day like today. For the past nine months this was not a choice,” she said. “For all the partners and volunteers we cannot have done it without all of you. Thank you!”
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