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Students to give back to South Bend

Emma Russ | Friday, April 1, 2011

Hundreds of Notre Dame students will participate in dozens of service projects throughout the South Bend community as part of the third annual CommUniversity Day Saturday, student coordinator Claire Sokas said.

Sokas said the event, sponsored by student government and the Center for Social Concerns (CSC), encourages students to “burst the Notre Dame bubble” by becoming active members of the community through service. 

“The event’s goal is not just to go out into the community and perform service, but also to recognize that we, as students, are a part of the community,” student coordinator Jay Kenney said.

Around 700 students are expected to participate in the event, matching last year’s participant total, Sokas said. She said the event has grown in the past two years in terms of the amount of service projects available to students.

Kenney and Sokas said they are excited that an increasing number of clubs and residence halls have stepped up and organized their own projects in conjunction with CommUniversity Day. 

“This year we have been able to reach out to more community contacts than ever,” Sokas said. “It was a big day of service that has blossomed into a huge day of service.”

Kenney said one of the most popular projects this year is mural painting at the Robinson Community Learning Center, where students will have the opportunity to work with children and young adults who reside in South Bend.

The CSC Canned Food Drive is also one of the most highly anticipated CommUniversity Day projects, Kenney said. Approximately 75 students will go door-to-door in several South Bend neighborhoods to collect canned goods for the Food Bank of Northern Indiana.

“This is a great project because it allows students to really see South Bend and directly interact with residents while helping out the Food Bank,” food drive coordinator Melissa Janisch said.

Overall, the South Bend community has responded positively toward CommUniversity Day, Kenney said.

“Community members look forward to this day every year,” he said. “People love working with and interacting with the students.”

Service projects will also take place on the Notre Dame campus, including a kids’ festival open to all children in the South Bend community. The festival will take place on Irish Green from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and will offer games, food, music, a cakewalk and a bounce house, coordinator Leah Bernardi said.

Projects run from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., and the day concludes with a community-wide picnic at the Robinson Community Learning Center.