NCCU partners with community groups in Durham for "Make a Difference Day"
September 17, 2011
By Cliff Bellamy
DURHAM – Students from N.C. Central University braved Saturday’s cool and sometimes wet weather to clean up trash, collect recyclable materials, and knock on doors in the neighborhoods near the campus.
Kaleb Scroggins and Dominique Smith, who helped pick up trash north of the campus, were among the students who volunteered their time to help with the school’s Make a Difference Day observance. Scroggins and Smith both have volunteered for blood drives and other community service projects before.
No one complained about the occasional light rain. “I like doing this,” said junior Zoe Jones. “There’s nothing wrong with rolling up your sleeves and cleaning some trash and giving back to the community.” Jones did note that she is more accustomed to volunteering when it is hot outside, with the mosquitoes biting.
“It’s fabulous,” said Rufus Hill from the city’s Neighborhood Improvement Services department, one of the organizations that partnered with NCCU for the volunteer day. “Everybody’s got a good smile. Everybody’s chipped in.”
NCCU Chancellor Charlie Nelms started the school’s observance of Make a Difference Day (a national program of USA Weekend Magazine) in 2009 to stress the importance of community service to students. Saturday’s observance was dubbed “Neighbor to Neighbor,” and it fell on Constitution Day. Students offered complimentary copies of the founding document to neighbors. Students, staff and faculty volunteers formed groups to fan out in the neighborhoods near the campus. Other students boarded buses to help with projects in other places around the city. Later in the day, students were scheduled to break ground on Eagle-Habitat 4, the school’s fourth house to be built in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity.
The students got an early start, first attending a teaching and orientation session in McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium. They were expected to write a reflection of their service at the end of the day.
Jane Williams, a first-year graduate student from Atlanta, became a de facto leader of a group of students who walked along Massey Street. Vernell Massey, who works in the Registrar’s Office, called out instructions to another group of students and staff working along Merrick Street. Jahmal Williams, a staff member with the school’s Centennial Scholars program, which seeks to ensure success of male students, also led a group of students.
While some students picked up trash, other students carried white bags containing copies of the school’s newspaper and other information about the school. They knocked on doors and offered the bags to neighbors as a way of introduction. Toni Oliver, a freshman, said the day was a “good opportunity to get involved with our outside community.”
Dominique Wright, one of the school’s Centennial Scholars, said that organization sets a goal of 40 hours of community service a semester. “It feels good to get out again,” Wright said after several weeks of focusing on academics. He knocked on several doors and handed out some bags. “Appreciate it,” said one resident along Price Street. Massey Avenue resident Patrick Hart thanked Wright, gave him a handshake, and said he looked forward to seeing him at the Eagles’ home football opener against Elon later in the day.