This past Saturday, October 15, Union students came together with Schenectady residents to participate in the annual John Calvin Toll Day of Service: a day for members of the community to do hands on work with local service organizations.
Instead of spending countless hours in the library doing the vast amount of work that is synonymous with week six, students gave up their Saturday afternoon to give back to the community. Students met up and signed in at noon at College Park Hall, where they were given their assignments for the next four hours in randomized groups. Students were asked to register earlier in the week in order allow for the process to run more efficiently. The first 200 participants who registered were able to receive a free John Calvin Toll Day of Service t-shirt.
The event is coordinated by the Kenney Community Center: the school’s community service office and main connection between students and service programs.
The event has been encouraged and funded by Al Hill ’46, descendant of one of Union’s earliest graduates, along with his wife Perrie Hill. The Hills’ support John Calvin Toll Day in order to motivate students to participate in volunteer work.
Hundreds of students came out to volunteer and give their time to the community, aiding organizations such as Walk Out of Darkness which helps the raise awareness and funds for those struggling with suicidal thoughts. Students such as Olga Khazen ‘19 and Sarah Gottlieb ‘19 said, “I thought that it was such a nice and simple way to help out not only those in the community struggling with this issue, but also in other parts of the world.”
Other students traveled across Schenectady to help in projects such as the Animal Protective Foundation, Bethesda House, the Boys and Girls club, BANA, and more.
John Miller ‘17, commented on his project at the Bethesda House: “Living here for four years, this is probably the one day that let’s me actually feel like I’m from Schenectady and not my own hometown.”
Many students agree that participating in the event provided them with a sense of home and community belonging with the residents of Schenectady.
Not only did students participate by themselves, with a group of friends, or with their respective sports team, but John Calvin Toll day also allows for multiple Greek organizations to participate for philanthropy hours.
Almost every fraternity and sorority on campus mandated that both new and existing members participate in the day, including Gamma Phi Beta, Sigma Phi, and many more.
Potential new member Zachary Nislick ‘19, who participated at the Walk Out of Darkness event, stated, “I’m glad that we actually had to come out. I think besides helping and getting to know the community, this day allows people to see that Greek organizations truly enjoy helping out.”
Students returned to campus no later than four in the afternoon from all different projects around Schenectady, giving them a total of 4 community service hours.
Many students expressed the desire to do community service days more often. Such students included Katherine Muzzy ‘19, who said, “I wish that this kind of thing happened more often. I feel like so many more students would start participating and see all the good things that they could do, not to mention the benefits for each of the organizations.”
Many of the organizations that participate in John Calvin Toll day are present on campus throughout the year. Organizations advertise meeting times and service events that are open to all students, allowing them to continue their participation outside of John Calvin Toll day.