Students devote week to service

GW students joined a nationwide movement to volunteer their time to cleanup projects, food drives and children’s activities during GW’s Volunteer Week, which culminated last Saturday.

Volunteer Week included eight main volunteer activities on campus and throughout the District. Students all over the country participated in similar events during the 10th annual National Volunteer Week, said Stacy Blumenthal, coordinator of the Neighbors Project in the Office of Community Service.

District children visited campus Saturday to participate in Kidsfest and trick-or-treat at residence halls. Students decorated their doors and purchased candy to give to the local trick-or-treaters.

Devon Tutak, a community facilitator in Crawford Hall, said residents in 15 rooms in her building greeted the costumed visitors.

I think this is a wonderful program. It’s nice when you have the campus blend in to the community, Tutak said. When you have a university, such as GW, in the middle of a city, it is important to have contact with the residents in the area. And it gives students a chance to give back to the community.

Children went door to door earlier in the day than originally planned because a gas leak near the corner of 21st and H streets caused the evacuation of the Marvin Center, forcing an early end to Kidsfest.

Kidsfest brought children ages two to eight to the Hippodrome, where they participated in face painting and decorated pumpkins while a magician entertained guests.

Saturday’s events were part of Make a Difference Day, which also included a Volunteer Marathon.

About 120 students volunteered at Miriam’s Kitchen, Martha’s Table, Manna CDC and a community cleanup in the Shaw neighborhood for the day of service, said Madeline Buck, an organizer for the events.

(The Volunteer Marathon) day is a good day to inspire people to get out into Shaw and see what the neighborhood is about, while the neighborhood children come to GW to celebrate Halloween, Buck said.

Students said the variety of community service options during Volunteer Week offered opportunities to take part in many different forms of volunteerism.

The event brought Jonathan Kozol, author of Savage Institutions and Amazing Grace, to speak at the Strong Hall Piano Lounge Saturday evening.

Kozol, born in Boston in 1936, talked about his experiences in inner-city schools in New York.

He said urban schools are at a disadvantage because better teachers are lured to well-funded, suburban schools. In his most recent book, Amazing Grace, Kozol examines issues of race and poverty with stories about residents of the South Bronx.

Throughout the week Provisions Market collected non-perishable food items to help Miriam’s Kitchen and Northwest Settlement House. The GW College Democrats, GW College Republicans, Program Board, Residence Hall Association and the Neighbors Project sponsored the food drive.

-Shilo Groover contributed to this report.

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