Freezing temperatures and gray skies did not stop a dedicated group of DePaul students from volunteering at DePaul College of Law’s January 2013 Donate-A-Day.
Organized by the College of Law’s Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative (PBCSI), the Donate-A-Day took place on January 26, 2013 at the Our Lady of Charity School in Cicero, IL. University Ministry (UMIN) in the Loop co-sponsored the event, along with two College of Law student groups: the Latino Law Student Association and the Society for Asylum & Immigration Law.
Nearly forty Loop students participated, including law, international, and business students. Law School Chaplain Tom Judge and PBCSI Student Coordinator Desalina Williams were the site leaders for the service day.
The volunteers arrived at the school shortly after 10:00 a.m. and quickly got to work on a wide range of projects. Some volunteers headed over to the rectory to clean and organize a large storage closet full of donated items for people in need. Another group of volunteers worked on creating an inventory of donations that would be sold at a garage sale fundraiser.
Students cleaned the kitchen and cafeteria and others painted a room that will serve as the new teachers’ lounge. Sorting toys in the day care, cleaning and organizing gym equipment in storage closets, and general scrubbing and cleaning (washing windows and vacuuming the chapel) were also on the to-do list for the day.
During the lunch break, the volunteers got to know each other and Our Lady of Charity better.
Our Lady of Charity Principal Katie Olson talked about the history of the school and its students. She explained that most students are Hispanic and African-American and qualify for free or reduced lunch. For many of the students, English is a second language. She also explained that, although the school is growing, it is still struggling financially. Olsen also shared her background, history and reasoning as to why she chose education as her vocation.
As part of the discussion, DePaul volunteers debated the “education pipeline.” They shared ideas about how to shape student expectations so that finishing high school and attending college is a priority, even if no other family member has done so. The volunteers found the discussion and overall experience meaningful.
When asked to comment about the service day, first year law student Angelica Griffin stated: “In response to my personal experience I would have to say one of the most rewarding aspects of volunteering was the opportunity to meet, connect, and make friends with people throughout the university as a whole. Everyone shared an interest of being a part of the solution.”
First year student Alana De Leon was also energized by her day of service. “Getting out and serving others really makes you realize what an impact you want to make and can make if you have the passion and the drive to do so," she said. "The programs [at Our Lady of Charity] to help their students celebrate the diversity of the community and promote education were powerful and inspiring. The school's emphasis on faith, service, and education as the foundational elements for success really struck home for the law students who so easily lose touch with such simple principles in the face of endless deadlines, reading assignments and legal concepts. It was nice to refocus on the basics and recharge while serving others.”
PBCSI hosts three Donate-A-Day service projects per semester. For more information about PBCSI and its Donate-A-Day service projects, please contact Cheryl Price at firstname.lastname@example.org.