Northwestern volunteers set record for community service

Rob Karwath | June 29, 2016

A record number of students, faculty and staff donated a record number of volunteer hours during Northwestern's annual Service & Appreciation Day.

Nearly 180 students, faculty and staff donated a record 757 hours of service work at 15 locations throughout the Twin Cities region on Tuesday as part of Northwestern Health Sciences University’s Service & Appreciation Day.

The full day of volunteer work and activities included packing meals donated to individuals and groups, cleaning buildings and grounds of local schools and making knit hats and blankets for infants undergoing chemotherapy.

“It’s about having an impact on our community that is consistent with our mission and vision,” Northwestern President Christopher Cassirer said. “Our goal is to be the premier health sciences university that helps create a healthier world. Part of that comes through providing service in healthy ways. Giving back creates civic engagement as well as meaningful learning opportunities for our students.”

Cassirer welcomed the Northwestern volunteers and gave the opening speech to the team on the university’s campus before they departed to their service assignments. Projects included local opportunities in and around the Northwestern campus in Bloomington and elsewhere in the immediate community, including projects at three Bloomington Public Schools buildings.

They also included efforts across the Twin Cities region, including: hand-packing meals specially formulated for starving children worldwide through Feed My Starving Children in Chanhassen and Eagan; cleaning at Pillsbury House, Northwestern’s student-run integrated health clinic in Minneapolis; and packaging medical supplies for impoverished communities in Bolivia through the Mano á Mano program in St. Paul.

The number of volunteer opportunities, the number of participants and the hours of volunteer service donated were the largest ever for Northwestern’s Service & Appreciation Day, Cassirer said. Each year, the program has grown significantly. The record turnout and volunteer effort already has encouraged the organizing team to plan a more ambitious program next year, he said.

“This is about celebrating what’s right in our community and offering help to advance the mission of all of these groups while also advancing our mission,” Cassirer said. “For our students, this is a chance to volunteer but also to provide meaningful reflection about how working in the community can advance their educational experience.”

Northwestern Health Sciences University, based in Bloomington, provides world-class professional education and research as well as comprehensive health and wellness services. Its more than 130 faculty members annually teach about 6,500 students pursuing degrees and continuing education in accredited programs in chiropractic, acupuncture, therapeutic massage, nutrition and other health treatments. The university, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2016, has more than 7,500 graduates throughout the U.S. and in 21 countries.

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