This Saturday, hundreds of University of Miami students will come together for one cause. National Gandhi Day of Service, UM’s largest service event, will focus on creating a larger impact on the community than it ever has before.
Last year, volunteers worked at 40 to 50 smaller service sites with 10 to 20 students at each site. To expand the breadth of Gandhi Day’s impact, the Butler Center for Service and Leadership and the South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow will assign small tasks to individuals working together in a larger site group.
“Before, Gandhi Day was created to be a personal experience with students,” said Gandhi Day Co-Chair Joon Chung. “Now we are hoping to make a greater impact on the community by focusing more energy on one site.”
Volunteers will meet at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday to sign in at the Rock, where they will get free Gandhi Day T-shirts. Buses will take students to the sites around 11:30 a.m. When students arrive back at school around 4:30 p.m. they will receive free food from Guru, an Indian restaurant on Miami Beach, or pizza.
“I think it’s great [that] UM organizes these days of service where the whole UM community can get together for a worthy cause,” said senior Margie Leira, who is participating this year with Psi Chi. “Last year, we helped out at a day care by simply cleaning up or painting and planting. Anything helps.”
This year’s service will include restoration, painting and landscaping in various locations around Miami. One group will go to the Miami Zoo to put out food for animals and arrange educational exhibits.
Another group, comprised of 80 students, will be renovating parts of Overtown which, according to Chung, is one of the sites most in need.
“Overtown is one of the poorest neighborhoods in the nation. It’s in need of a lot of manual work which they don’t have the resources for,” Chung said. “We’re allowing people around here to have a safe environment and we create a difference in their way of living.”
One of the larger Gandhi Day sites this year will be a carnival at the South Miami Community Center. UM students will be setting up bounce houses and hosting an educational program in partnership with Miami-Dade police to promote Crime Prevention Day. They will help children understand different crime rates in society.
Gandhi Day Co-Chair Sumit Mehta believes that working with different community groups in Miami is the most rewarding part about Gandhi Day.
“The best part of Gandhi Day is at the end of the day when people come back, and see the impact they are making and hopefully they are inspired to continue through college and beyond,” Mehta said.
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