By April Wilson, Senior Staff Writer
For many students, fall break is a time to decompress and breathe. They can catch up on reading, study or completely ignore anything school related and find something fun to do. However, UNO’s Service Learning Days program is providing another option to join faculty, staff, alumni and members of the community for the annual Three Days of Service on Oct. 15, 17 and 18.
The Days of Service project is in its 10th academic year. The first days of service occurred during Spring Break 2003,. This year there will be 15 days of service including Martin Luther King Day, Global Youth Service Day, 9/11 Remembrance Day and for the first time Veteran’s Day.
The project for fall break is partnering with over 14 community organizations including Habitat for Humanity, Keep Council Bluffs Beautiful, The Salvation Army, Together, Inc. and Lauritzen Gardens, among others.
Many of the service projects will focus on cleaning up flood damage along both the Omaha and Council Bluffs sides of the Missouri River, including Salvation Army’s Camp Eppley in Bellevue that suffered extensive damage during this summer’s catastrophic flooding.
“Last year we had over 750 volunteers during the three days,” said Director of University Service Days Kathe Lyons. “We anticipate that to grow as it does every year.”
“Academic Service Learning classes such as PA 4500 and Intro to Media Relations help to make these University Service Days the success they are,” she said.
They are helping as organizers at registration and as Service Coordinators on work sites.
Check in each day will begin at 8:15 a.m. at Milo Bail Student Center. Volunteers will be able to choose their project and then wait for a shuttle to the work site, Lyons said. The shuttle will then transport them to the site where they will work, doing a variety of jobs, and then pick them up after 2 p.m. for arrival back at UNO by 3 p.m. All participants will receive a free lunch, snacks and a T-shirt.
“[Volunteers] make new friends, they learn new skills, they are doing important work to contribute to building and strengthening our community and they have fun…all of it for a lunch and a T-shirt,” Lyons said.”It also builds a resume, and it is also an opportunity for them to learn and gain leadership skills,”
Volunteering presents the opportunity to learn everyday life skills like painting, dry walling, weeding and planting that participants can use in their day-to-day lives.
Lyons said many campus groups are expected to participate, including Project Achieve, The Thompson Learning Community and students from International Studies and Athletics programs. Participants will not only include members of the UNO community, but many metro area high school students. Individuals are heavily encouraged to volunteer and bring friends as well.
Volunteers are encouraged to go online and register. Lyons said it is the preferred method because it ensures a quick and easy check in. The form can be found on www.unomaha.edu/serve.