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400 volunteer to rake leaves in South Bend

Mary Migliozzi | Monday, November 24, 2003

Nearly four hundred students participated in Turning Over a New Leaf on Saturday, a project where students raked leaves and did other yard work for disabled residents in the northeast neighborhood.

This was the largest turnout ever for the annual project, a collaborative effort of several sponsors including the classes of 2004, 2006 and 2007, Circle K, the CSC the Robinson Center, Lewis Hall and Knott Hall.

“We want to make it a little easier for disabled and handicapped people to prepare for winter. We rake leaves and do whatever the residents ask us to do,” said planning committee chair Mike Vitlip.

This is the project’s third year, and turnout was almost double what organizers expected. Vitlip said that he originally anticipated about 250 participants.

The committee planned to staff 52 sites and added 10 to 20 more when other residents asked for help.

“It was fun to interact with the lady whose yard we were cleaning. She was very grateful, and it was great to help her,” said Jenna Farmer, a Pangborn sophomore. “I’ve been wanting to get involved with service since I’ve been here and hadn’t done it yet. I thought it sounded like a really fun thing to do with a group of friends and a really great way to help out the community”

Farmer said she heard about the project through friends, some of whom heard about it through freshman class council or from signs in their dorm and the dorm’s social concerns commissioner.

“The woman we helped was very appreciative,” said Michelle McCarthy, a social concerns commissioner for Pangborn Hall who participated for the first time this year. “I think she lives by herself, and it was nice to have someone help.”

McCarthy’s group cleaned up the resident’s yard and swept her porch and walkway.

Vitlip said that several groups like McCarthy’s did chores other than raking leaves, such as chopping wood and cleaning out a porch.

“I hope in coming years it will expand to more of a winterization project, so we can do larger projects to help people prepare for winter,” said Vitlip.