09/02/08 — MOC students to lend a helping hand

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MOC students to lend a helping hand

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 2, 2008 1:37 PM

MOUNT OLIVE--College students typically start the school year braced to roll up their sleeves and work.

This year, however, that phrase is taking on a whole new meaning, as nearly 200 first-year students participated in a large-scale community project to beautify Mount Olive.

As part of the Freshman Seminar class, all new freshmen were part of the volunteer project, officials said.

Dr. Ronda Bryant, assistant vice president for student development-student success, along with Julie Beck, student activities director, introduced the project, which translated to more than 800 hours of service to the town of Mount Olive.

Essentially, the project centered around refurbishing the town's two parks known as Kids World Park and Nelson Street Park.

Even though many of the students only arrived to campus a week ago, the workday took place just shy of the first day of classes.

"We want to foster a spirit of service with our students and help them understand their place in the college and the community, while at the same time building friendships and strengthening ties," Dr. Bryant said.

"During the Freshman Seminar class, students explore a number of topics to help them adjust to college life and prepare them for successful futures in college and beyond. The 'Epic Journey' (project) will be used as an example of how students can begin their legacy for the future."

Students were divided into groups and set out to paint, sand and spruce up the town's parks.

Stacy Sellars of Chinquapin said, "I love to paint. This is right up my alley."

Classmate Savannah Kosik is also familiar with volunteer work, having helped out at the local animal shelter in her hometown of Camden, as well as being a youth softball coach.

Aleks Mitrovic of Montreal, Canada, said, "It has been a good experience to get involved in the community. I have met a lot of new people."

Likewise, local officials were appreciative.

Chamber of Commerce Director Tyler Barwick said, "It is great to get students tied into the town as soon as they arrive. It makes everyone feel more connected."

The one-day work project coincided with the college's "Welcome Week," an important time for new students.

"Our faculty and staff are committed to making sure that they start the year off right," Dr. Bryant said.