Justeen Huynh didn’t feel tired after laboring two hours under the sun on Williams Farm. The junior exercise and sport science major was too busy examining the work that the 50 or so UGA student volunteers completed during the fifth annual Dawg Day of Service.
More than 500 students participated in the annual service event—the biggest turnout in event history, said Kyle Anderson, senior coordinator for campus and community outreach. Almost all of the 27 community partner sites were filled to capacity with volunteers who did everything from cleaning up outdoor spaces and filling garden beds at local elementary schools to implementing a composting system and chopping down ragweed at the farm.
The event, held Aug. 27, is one of several one-time volunteer opportunities put together by ServeUGA, a group that focuses on improving the UGA campus and Athens-Clarke County through community service. The volunteers worked at their chosen sites for about two and a half hours, providing a collective total of more than 1,000 hours of free labor.
First-time participant Kimarah Laurent, a third-year math major, said volunteering is something about which she’s always been passionate. For Dawg Day of Service, she worked at Nuci’s Space, a nonprofit that offers mental health support and professional services to local musicians. Laurent, who picked up trash around the establishment and swept the floor of the building, plans to continue serving the community by participating in next semester’s MLK Day of Service.
Huynh, also a first-time volunteer, enjoyed working at the Williams Farm, which is part of the Athens Land Trust, a nonprofit that sets aside land for community purposes.
“The owners said we put in nearly 100 hours of work,” she said. “And it was really nice to know how much of a difference we made.”
But there were also repeat volunteers, like Melanie Abron, a second-year biological science major, who picked up trash at last year’s event and spent the 2016 Dawg Day of Service prepping Lyndon House Arts Center for its new Open Studio program, which lets artists make use of the center’s art studios.
“Volunteering in the city you live in is pretty important,” Abron said. “We go to UGA, but what does that matter if you don’t help the community around the university?”