Dare to Care Day proves to be successful as campus gives back to local community


Bruce Fox/Instructional Services

The largest of the 36 volunteer projects was the Hull House in Lancaster, NY, about 30 minutes away from campus.

Olivia Smith, Associate News Editor

SUNY Buffalo State held its annual Bengals Dare to Care Day on Sept. 17.

Despite the rain, the event was larger than ever, with over 600 students, faculty and staff volunteering their time in service projects across the Buffalo area.

Volunteers were able to choose from a variety of 36 projects, each with a distinct need, from working with children, to gardening and painting, distributing food and more.

“The energy of the students was terrific,” said Laura Hill, coordinator at the Volunteer and Service Learning Center.

Everyone gathered in the Sports Arena early that morning to later be sent out into individual groups ranging from eight to 30 volunteers. Each project was led by an event coordinator, who overrsaw the project for the day.

“The event has grown tremendously since (Buffalo State President) Dr. (Katherine) Conway-Turner got involved three years ago,” Hill said.

Hill managed the communications for the event. She spoke on the great networking of the different projects, which has been growing for 12 years.

“The projects come to us with a need,” Hill said. “We respond to the work.”

Hill added that projects are kept in the City of Buffalo for transportation services of volunteers.

“We have an amazing network of urban gardening this year,” Hill said.

Of the projects this year, 14 included some type of gardening need. Projects like the Wakefield Block Club, Cambridge Avenue Community Garden and Artfarms and Michigan Riley Farm were in need of some cleanup. Volunteers cleaned flower beds, weeded and prepared for winter.

Other gardening projects like the Rosa Garden of Love and Common Roots Urban Farm called for some creativity in the work.

“I’ve already received such positive emails from our gardening projects,” Hill said.

Outside of gardening included a project at the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences. The project included working with kids at the bubble swimming pool, playing in the techno bubble dance room and other various crafts.

Junior biology major Cheyanne Smith was the leader of the project.

“I had so much fun last year, so it’s nice to do it again,” Smith said.

Last year, she volunteered at “None Like You,” an organization on the east side of Buffalo that fixes homes for those in need.

Smith likes to work with children, so she was looking forward to trying a new project this year.

“I really think everyone should do this once; you can be a leader or just participate,” Smith said.

Across the city at the Buffalo City Mission was junior Spanish major Ada Garcia.

Garcia was also a returning volunteer from last year, but this time as the coordinator for the City Mission project. At the City Mission, volunteers organized the community center, which was packed with an inventory of donations.

“When we got there, it was a mess,” Garcia said. “There was food stacked everywhere, but we were able to clean it all within an hour.”

Garcia had eight volunteers working with her, and was amazed by how much her team was able to accomplish.

“There’s normally only four people working here,” Garcia said, “so what we did would normally take much longer.”

Garcia has volunteered at the event since she was a freshman, and her senior year will be no different.

“It’s great for students to get out and make community partners,” Garcia said. “It’s just so important to build connections.”

Like Smith, Garcia hopes to see more students find the motivation to volunteer and give back to the community.

Located 30 minutes away from Buffalo was the largest of the projects, the Hull House. This project called for 30 volunteers to move rocks, prune shrubs and trim bushes.

“Students were definitely dragging their feet coming back from this project,” Hill said, “but they all said it went well.

“This event is just a stepping stone to try more community service. So far there’s been a great extent of student interest, and as students learn more about civic engagement, I think the community service efforts will grow.”

On Sept. 28, the Volunteer and Service Learning Center will host a Volunteer Fair from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Campbell Student Union. Non-profit organizations from around the area will come to campus for students to learn about their missions.

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