University of Southern Maine students, faculty and staff volunteered at 25 sites in the Portland, Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn areas recently for 10th Annual Husky Day of Service, performing jobs as varied as picking up trash and painting to packing medical supplies.
“I applaud the tremendous energy of hundreds who fanned out to non profit locations to support and give back to those in our communities,” President Glenn Cummings said.
The event — held in conjunction with National Volunteer Week — sent folks to several categories of local non profit organization including: public health and housing, advocacy and human rights, arts and culture, education and youth development, and education.
At Strive U in Portland’s West End, USM volunteers swept, washed, decluttered and decobwebbed as they cleaned parts of the organization’s three apartment buildings.
At the Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine – located in a large warehouse in Auburn — 10 volunteers from USM’s Lewiston campus sorted through food donations.
And at the Portland Gear Hub, volunteers worked to help launch a test drive space. The Hub is a nonprofit organization that makes bicycles more accessible to youth by taking in donations of used bikes, repairing and reselling them at affordable prices.
Kerry Gross, volunteer coordinator at the Portland Gear Hub, immediate expressed her appreciation to the USM crew which included two alumni and students Michael Perez and Marie Apt.
"We always welcome volunteers, but to have Husky Day of Service help us out is great," Gross said.
Shop Director Ainsley Judge was especially excited about the #HuskyDOS visit, since the Hub recently received permission to revamp its outdoor space.
"You guys have been dealt the task of doing the real dirty work, but this is the very first step," she said. The cleanup included removal of its rusty chain link fence.
Armed with rakes, clippers, and wrenches, the volunteers disposed of wet leaves around the parking lot, cleared shrubbery intertwined with the fence and disassembled new donations.
Neighbors thanked volunteers as they left from or returned to their homes.
"Once the Gear Hub's beautification project is complete, we will be able to look at it and know that we helped start it," said Apt, a nursing student.
Another group went to Partners for World Health, a Portland group that collects medical supplies that healthcare facilities in the U.S. are required to discard and ships them to countries in need.
Hannah Daigle volunteered alongside the rest of her women’s fraternity, Alpha Xi Delta.
“Volunteering is something that I've always done and that I've always loved to do, so this is a great opportunity to learn more about our community,” said Daigle, a tourism and hospitality major. “I will definitely be doing it again next year and will probably continue to volunteer at the site that I am at right now. This is the first time I have done Husky Day of Service."
The work was appreciated, said Kelsey McSweeney, the volunteer coordinator for Partners for World Health. "We have participated for the past three years,” she said.” We love our partnership with USM so we were really excited to do it again.
“There's always a lot of tasks so to be able to get a big group like this in and kind of tackle that is always really beneficial for us,” she said.