Freshmen volunteer to 'set the world on fire'
Published: Thursday, August 29, 2013
Updated: Thursday, August 29, 2013 18:08
Loyola students are “setting the world on fire” by volunteering in the New Orleans community through their involvement in Spark Week.
Spark Week is a part of Loyola University Community Action Program’s Spark program at Loyola. From Saturday, Aug. 17, to Wednesday, Aug. 21, incoming freshmen students embraced service, volunteering around the city of New Orleans and attending seminars to reflect on their service and its importance.
This year’s Spark program partnered with the office of residential life. This new feature hopes to create a living community around Spark for participants to live together with a resident assistant who has participated in Spark Week in the past.
Also different this year is that Spark participants will volunteer with three organizations that focus on different services in the community. The partnering organizations were Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans, Hike for KaTREEna and St. Paul’s Homecoming Center.
“I am excited to see how the new coming freshmen and Sparkers interact with the program and enjoying volunteering in New Orleans,” Jade Domingue, English writing junior and two-year Spark leader, said.
Joseph Deegan, associate chaplain for service and justice, and Loyola University Community Action Program adviser, has guided Spark since its establishment in 2011.
Deegan said he has seen the organization grow from 15 participants in 2011 to 40 participants in 2013. He said that he has also seen the organization’s influence on students grow since its origination.
“They really go forth and set the campus on fire,” Deegan said. “Some of the students sign up for leadership positions within organizations at Loyola, become LUCAP or Spark leaders, and some start programs of their own around campus.”
For Hike for KaTREEna, participants assisted in the project of restoring Lakeshore Drive by painting shelters and rebuilding picnic tables and park benches.
Connie Uddo, executive director of Hike for KaTREEna and St. Paul’s Homecoming, said she appreciates having Spark volunteers come to her organizations.
“We work closely with volunteers from universities and high schools in the area. We are so grateful for Loyola students to come out to help. We really depend on volunteers and college kids are great,” Uddo said.
Melanie Hoeman, volunteer services supervisor for Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans, said she hopes Loyola students continue involvment after Spark is over.
“We enjoy working with college student volunteers to engage them in meaningful ways to give back to the local community,” Hoeman said.
Participants helped sort and package donated food at one of the nation’s largest food banks.
“I hope to inspire volunteers the joy of giving and to walk away feeling good, to say look, what we did today and we made a difference today, that volunteers do have an impact on communities,” Uddo said.
“I want them be acquainted with Loyola’s Jesuit identity and see New Orleans as their home,” Deegan said.
Shamara King can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org