Project HELP, an organization that connects students with volunteer opportunities in the community, held a virtual Week of Caring in a partnership with United Way of the Adirondacks, to show that even when Plattsburgh State students are separated by social distancing, they can still come together through community service.
“Our goal is to not let all the negativity that has been going on take control of us,” Joseph Ellis, a senior political science major and media relations coordinator for Project HELP said. “Project HELP wants us as a student body to show everybody that we are stronger than what’s going on.”
In past years, it took place on a Saturday in April and was called the Day of Caring. Several hundred students would engage in hands-on community service all over the North Country. They would help older people with yard work, do spring cleaning at the strand and YMCA and clean parks and highways.
The event was adjusted to a Week of Caring this year in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Each day of the week was assigned a particular theme, and Project HELP compiled a list of suggestions for acts students could do to fit the theme of that day. For example, Monday was “Thank the Frontline” and they suggested things like sending ecards to healthcare workers, putting candy bars in mailboxes for mail carriers and having meals delivered to local police, EMS and fire departments. Other themes were “Help Cure Catastrophic Childhood Diseases with St. Jude,” “Do a Random act of Kindness,” “Donate What You Can” and “You Can Still Volunteer While Social Distancing: a Day of Service.”
“This means a lot to me because I have personally met with the people who we have helped out over the years,” Ellis said.
He said although some volunteers may feel like their acts of kindness go unnoticed, even the smallest things are improving the lives of others.
Students who participated were encouraged to post a statement about how the acts they did made an impact and photos on social media. Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life Allison Swick-Duttine said about 50 people reported their hours, but believes double that participated throughout the week.
“I truly believe week of caring is a prime example that our generation will make a positive change in this world,” Ellis said. “Even with a pandemic, we are still thinking and caring of others by paying it forward.”
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