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Community service day a great success

U of T Scarborough student Lina Balian plays with Kole, 2, at a child care centre during U Serve day. Photo by Ken Jones.

Instead of hitting the books, some U of T Scarborough students spent last Friday volunteering at day care centres, seniors clubs, and other community agencies.

September 22 was designated as U Serve 2006: Connecting U with the Community. It was the first community service day organized for campus students, and 100 students signed up to volunteer at a number of different community and social agencies.

“It is important for us to build and enhance the connections between our campus and the community around us,” said Vinitha Gengatharan of the Office of Student Affairs, which organized the day jointly with the University of Toronto’s Centre for Community Partnerships. “We feel it’s important to connect our students to the community and to let them know that there are local needs that they can help to address, and to give them an introduction to civic engagement.”

“The day was aimed at reaching out to the community around us,” she added. “Service opportunities in the community offer a great chance to connect academic activities with the social, political and ethical issues of the communities around us.”

The day was a great success, said Gengatharan, and organizers will be meeting to discuss plans for another such day next year.

Lina Balian, a fourth-year philosophy and psychology major, volunteered to help with children’s play activities at a Scarborough day care centre.

“It was a pleasure to do something I enjoy so much while representing my school,” said Balian. “The day went by so fast, and the children were buzzing with energy. Everyone had a smile on their face. It is important to give back to the community and help each other as much as we can. The survival of humanity is dependent on the charity we provide to one another.”

Teresa Wong, a third-year management student, was also a U Serve volunteer. “I personally think that it is important to know what is going on around the community. Volunteering is not only about helping people, but also getting to know new people.”

“Working in the kitchen and preparing food for the seniors was quite an experience,” said Cindy Hum, a fourth-year management student. “The closest that I have ever come to cooking is opening up a can of beans and heating it in the microwave, so when they asked me to make cupcakes I was hesitant. Luckily they turned out to be edible!”

“It is important to participate in something like this -- not only is it a great way to give back to the community, but you learn things about yourself that you never knew before,” adds Hum.  "Volunteering develops you as an individual and it is a great way to meet new people as well. I would definitely volunteer again if the opportunity came up.  I would tell others who want to volunteer to just go for it – it’s a great opportunity to take on new roles and try new things.”

© University of Toronto Scarborough