National Gandhi Day of Service offers students chance to connect with community

Students clean up Tropical Park as a part of Gandhi Day 2015. Photo courtesy Butler Center.
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Students clean up Tropical Park as a part of Gandhi Day 2015. Photo courtesy Butler Center.

The University of Miami’s largest annual service day, The National Gandhi Day of Service, will take place Oct. 13 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and offer students a chance to get involved in their off-campus community.

Participants will be bussed to one of 28 South Florida service sites to spend a few hours working hard for the benefit of others. Possible activities include cleaning up local beaches, preparing meals for a veteran’s hospital, doing Halloween crafts at a children’s museum and interacting with nursing home residents.

But Gandhi Day co-chair Madison Guido said that students can expect more than a day of service. She said participants will also gain the opportunity to connect with their community.

“It’s kind of easy to get caught up in the bubble of UM and UM’s campus, but I think it’s important to go out there and meet other people,” said Guido, a senior biology major.

The other co-chair, Tori Diceglio, said that students should take advantage of Gandhi Day to get off campus and learn about the many volunteer opportunities that surround UM.

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Students garden as a part of Gandhi Day 2015. Photo courtesy Butler Center.

“I think it’s a great way to connect us with the outside local area and to show that we are a philanthropic school and that our students do care about the surrounding areas and helping those who are less fortunate,” she said.

The event will begin at 9 a.m. on the UC Patio and Breezeway. After students sign in and receive their location assignments, they will get a free breakfast and a T-shirt. They’ll also have the chance to mingle with each other and meet their group leaders before boarding the buses and heading to the service sites.

Once on location, students will spend two to three hours participating in various community service projects. Gandhi Day vice-chair Meghana Chapalamadugu said that although aspects of these tasks can be difficult, they’re worth the effort.

“I mean sure, you get a little sweaty, you get your hands dirty, but at the end of the day, you’re able to bond with a group of people while doing something positive in the community,” said Chapalamadugu, a junior neuroscience major.

Diceglio said Gandhi Day’s name comes from its relationship to the famous political activist, Mahatma Gandhi. The service day is strategically held within two weeks of Gandhi’s birthday, which is Oct. 2, in order to honor his legacy as a proponent of positive change, Diceglio said.

“It comes from the idea of practicing what you preach and doing what you want to see happen,” Chapalamadugu said.

Diceglio, Guido and Chapalamadugu all said seeing the impact of all their hard work is the best part of any service day.

“I just think that seeing other people really puts life into perspective. It makes you realize how grateful you should be for what we have here,” said Diceglio.

Students can register to participate in Gandhi Day on the event’s OrgSync page. The deadline for registration is Oct. 11.