More than 100 UGA Public Service and Outreach faculty and staff members volunteered more than 240 hours to Athens area nonprofits, schools and other community organizations on PSO’s sixth Day of Service.
Faculty and staff volunteered at 11 Athens locations, as well as four sites across the state. Among the tasks: helping organize donations for the Athens Community Council on Aging thrift shop; transforming old garden beds into a chicken yard at Hilsman Middle School; inspecting and sorting donations for the Athens nonprofit organization Books for Keeps; cleaning animal enclosures at the Athens Area Humane Society; and planting more than 5,000 daffodil bulbs in a public space at Timothy Road and the Athens Loop.
“It’s interesting to see this side of service and it’s fun,” said Darrell Robinson, a research professional at the UGA Carl Vinson Institute of Government. “It’s nice that they carve out the time for us to give back and this is just another way we live up to our PSO mission to serve.”
Faculty and staff also contributed 1,000 diapers, 152 rolls of toilet paper, 12 packages of feminine hygiene products, nine bottles of detergent, seven boxes of large trash bags, 43 hats, eight blankets and countless toiletries and medications, which were donated to the Athens Area Diaper Bank, the Athens Area Homeless Shelter and the Clarke County School District.
This was the sixth year of the PSO Day of Service, which since 2015 has been held on the Friday before Thanksgiving week. The event was cancelled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
(PHOTOS: Shannah Montgomery, Sydney Fordice, and Christina Allen-Wise)
While Public Service and Outreach faculty and staff are committed to serving Georgia every day, the Day of Service provides an opportunity for PSO employees to give back to the local community.
“It was great to be able to get back out to work alongside local organizations that do so much to benefit the Athens community,” said Jennifer Frum, vice president for UGA Public Service and Outreach. “So many of our faculty and staff have jobs that take them to other parts of the state, or that keep them inside an office. It’s good for them to take time to actively participate in outreach on a local level.”
Several PSO units that work exclusively in other areas of the state—such as UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant and regional offices of the UGA Small Business Development Center—participated in service project in their local communities.
Volunteers also helped with the 10th annual Turkeypalooza food drive, organized by the Office of Service-Learning’s Campus Kitchen program and the Athens Community Council on Aging. This year the student-led program provided 276 grocery bags of food and 240 holiday meals for about 1,400 older adults and their families and homebound individuals in the Athens community.
“I was looking forward to this because it’s a great opportunity to give back to the community and seeing the impact (in previous years) was just amazing,” said Rashawn Merchant, a Public Service and Outreach Student Scholar from Kennesaw, Georgia, majoring in environmental economics.
Since beginning in 2015, the PSO Day of Service has brought together approximately 1,155 UGA employees for nearly 2,200 hours of volunteer service. During that time, the event has collected thousands of donated items, including coats, books, diapers and other essentials.