Anyone who has participated in one of Hamilton Association for Volunteering Outreach and Charity (HAVOC) days of service knows that the adage “the early bird catches the worm” readily applies to the sign-up process. By 10:45 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10, volunteers had already begun lining up at tables in the Fillius Events Barn, eager to match themselves with the sites of their choices for HAVOC’s annual Make a Difference Day.
Some students arrived in large groups that had pre-registered for sites, such as the Women’s Softball team. The athletes saw the day as an opportunity not only to participate in volunteer work but for team bonding.
“It’s a great chance for us to get to know the new girls on the team,” said Chelsea Merritt ’14.
Katherine Delesalle ’14 and her floor of first-year advisees from South Hall also registered as a group. “Last year, I volunteered with the residents of my dorm, Wertimer,” said Delesalle. “I got to talk to people I hadn’t really socialized with yet.”
The common denominator of volunteerism can bring together first-years while they are still settling into college life. Hamilton Serves, a day of community service for first-years during orientation, is typically the first time students are able to reach out to the community off-campus.
At around noon, a sea of students dispersed from Tolles Pavilion clad in maroon t-shirts and carrying bagged lunches. Most volunteers took buses off-campus to sites located in Clinton, Utica and Rome.
Nate Lanman ’15 helped organize goods at the Community Food Bank in Utica. "Hamilton Serves was a great experience, but it was obligatory,” said Lanman. “The fact that people did Make a Difference Day on their own time made it that much more special. Both programs offered great opportunities to give back to the surrounding area."
A few students were able to make a difference right on the Hill, lending a hand at the Hamilton Community Farm. Pat Dunn ’12, who lives in the Woollcott Co-op, was one of those volunteers.
“The farm is right in my backyard—I can see people working on it from my back porch, so the proximity itself is enough to remind me that there is a lot to be done there,” said Dunn.
“Designating a specific day for interested students to get out and try something new, I think, is what makes the day such a success,” Dunn added. “It's awesome that HAVOC is available as a resource for students who want to help but wouldn't know where to start on their own.”
Students who enjoyed Make a Difference Day are encouraged to attend the HAVOC Fair, which will take place Wednesday, Sept. 14, on Sadove Terrace from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m.