Marietta's difference makers


The official date for Make a Difference Day was Oct. 27, but Marietta College students needed more than 24 hours to complete the projects they wanted to help with in 2012.

So over a two-week period, McDonough Scholars, softball players and hundreds of other Pioneers did their part in volunteering throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley to make a difference in the lives of their neighbors.

“I’m really impressed with the variety of student groups who came together to serve our local community. We had student organizations, Greek chapters, and athletic teams sign up to serve, and some went as far as to schedule an alternative Make a Difference Day project so they could still participate despite their inability to serve this past Saturday,” says Cristie Thomas, Civic Engagement Coordinator. “Projects are scheduled over the course of the following two weeks to accommodate with the schedules of both our students and our community partners. I’ve already heard back from a few community partners expressing how thankful they are to Marietta College students for being present and willing to lend a hand and make a difference.”

Make a Difference Day, an initiative of USA Weekend and the HandsOn Network, a division of the Points of Light Institute, unites millions of volunteers in a day of service to their communities. The official event is held on the fourth Saturday in October, but due to local scheduling issues, most of Marietta’s projects were held on the third Saturday of the month.

Some of the projects that were completed by Marietta students were Locks of Love, Red Ribbon Week, Harvest of Hope, Care Packages for Soldiers Overseas, Mound Cemetery Cleanup, a Haunted House, Go Green or Go Home, a Marietta Memorial Hospital Blood Drive and a Boo-Boo Bear Donation Drive.

Katie Swejk ’13 (Tallmadge, Ohio) was part of a group of softball players who volunteered at the Wood County Habitat for Humanity, which builds between five to seven homes each year. With the average cost of one of these homes around $100,000, volunteer labor is a critical part of the program’s success.

“Our goal for the day was to transport building materials between storage warehouses. We loaded and unloaded the store’s truck with building supplies such as garage doors, wooden and metal shelves, carpets, and even a washing machine,” Swejk says. “Our team leader was amazed by how much work we got done in such a short amount of time. We were able to move all of the materials from one storehouse to another in about three hours. The people at Habitat for Humanity were so appreciative of our contribution, and it was amazing to think that we helped them with about three days worth of work in only three hours.”

Softball coach Jeanne Arbuckle was pleased by her team’s desire to help the community.

“Our team has been participating in Make a Difference Day for several years now. It provides a wonderful opportunity for our players to give something back to the community,” Arbuckle says. “This year our project at Habitat for Humanity was well received by our players and by the organization. I think it was a win-win situation for both groups.”

Emily Mason ’16 (Logan, Ohio) helped the group called “Call Me Baby,” a clear reference to the summer hit by Carly Rae Jepsen called “Call Me Maybe.” Her group collected donations for baby supplies outside of Walmart. Proceeds will be used to purchase diapers and supplies for Parkersburg-based Community Resources Inc., which provides those and other items to families in need.

The Call Me Baby group also included Cassy Crane ’16 (Simsbury, Conn.), Alex Seals ’16 (Marysville, Ind.), Austin Burns ’16 (Stockport, Ohio) and Xilan Li ’16 (Beijing, China).

“We actually completed it and dropped of our baby supplies (diapers of various sizes, baby powder, baby food, baby formula, and baby wipes) the Friday before Make a Difference Day,” Mason says. “We were able to collect more than $100 and purchase some much needed supplies for Community Resources Inc. in Parkersburg, W.Va.”

Among the other projects that were conducted included painting at Washington Elementary School, running a blood drive on campus and helping the Harvest of Hope community garden get ready for the winter.

Thomas says many of the projects are planned and executed by students in the McDonough Leadership program’s Leadership 101 class, where participation is a part of the course requirement.