Fort Worth, Texas – Students spent their Saturday morning giving back to the community by painting canvases and making animal toys as a part of TCU’s annual Day of Service.
The event looked different amid COVID-19 this year. Some students served in-person, masked-up and socially distanced, at the Dee J. Kelly Alumni and Visitors Center. Others participated virtually.
In years past, over 600 students would take buses to paint murals, play with animals at the Humane Society of North Texas or serve food at the Tarrant County Food Bank, in four-hour shifts. This year, 300 students were divided into four one-hour shifts to volunteer in person, and 350 students signed up for virtual service.
“I’ve been really impressed with how they’re actually making this happen and giving students the opportunity to make a difference in the community despite everything that’s going on,” said Service Leader Lexi Pepper, a first-year pre-business and psychology double major.
Event organizers knew they would have to alter the TCU Day of Service by the way things were looking in the summer. As soon as they realized this, they started to plan, said Erin Wilson, the associate director of community engagement programming. It was a challenge, but there has been an increase in the number of students who are interested in service this semester, so they wanted to make sure they provided it, Wilson said.
While students were not able to travel to the service sites this year, they were still able to make a difference from campus.
In-person service option
The in-person options included painting a canvas or making animal toys to be donated to the Humane Society. The individual canvases will be assembled to make a mural in S.S. Dillow’s Elementary School cafeteria. Students were told to paint an inspirational message of hope on their canvas. The final mural will be called “Voices of Hope.”
This option helped students feel engaged with the TCU community.
“I don’t have any in-person classes, so it’s been good to have the opportunity to volunteer in person,” said Bella Galindo, a first-year psychology major.
Other students said the in-person option helped them relieve some stress while doing something good for others.
“I think it was a good idea to get out of the stress-filled environment that we’re currently in with finals and tests and just come out and have something fun to do while also helping people,” said Andy Mendez, a sophomore business major.
Service Leader and junior nursing major Adriana Guerrero participated in the mural painting last year. Although students now have to paint remotely, she said everyone still has great energy and seems to be having fun.
“I’m glad there was an in-person option because I think that’s a lot more fun to actually be engaged in person,” said Guerrero. “I know I am not super engaged on Zoom, so I’m glad they were able to space things out and have a socially distanced way for people to still engage and participate in community service even if it’s not onsite.”
Virtual service option
Making an animal toy was both an in-person and virtual option. Students picked up a bag of materials earlier in the week to make the toys. The service leaders spent over three hours putting together the bags for virtual participants.
Students will drop off what they make at the Brown-Lupton University Union on Monday, and the toys will be delivered to the animal shelter. Wilson said about 2,000 toys will be delivered.
“It’s nice that we have virtual options for people that can’t come in, but can still contribute,” said Julia Rizzo, a junior biology major.
The other virtual option was the independent service option. Students could choose from 11 different service activities — ranging from writing letters to the elderly to picking up trash around the neighborhood — to complete on their own.
“I think TCU Day of Service will have a larger impact this year because with the independent service option, people can do a lot,” said Sophia Nguyen, the director of marketing for the event.
While students are normally limited to serving the Fort Worth community, this option allows students to impact communities beyond Fort Worth.