On Saturday, several charities and businesses will get some TLC couresty of University of South Florida students.
The school is hosting its Stampede of Service program, USF's largest annual community service project when 3,000 students will devote their time to do a variety of projects from helping the elderly to painting a preschool.
In the Westchase area, USF students will be on hand at Bakas Equestrian Center, where they will repair barns and do some landscaping. Another set of students will devote their time at Weinberg Village, located at the Jewish Community Center's campus on Gunn Highway. Student volunteers will spend time with residents on bead and craft making, said Adam Freeman, USF public affairs coordinator.
The sites where students will be volunteering were chosen through USF’s Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement. The staff worked with the United Way Suncoast organization to identify community organizations that could use a few extra volunteers, Freeman said.
Since 2006, when Stampede for Service began, the program has quickly become one of the most popular events among USF's student body.
The program began as a part of USF’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Week, providing large groups of volunteers the opportunity to honor Dr. King by participating in community service. The event has grown from 900 students in its first year to 3,000 in 2012.
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"This experience places volunteerism at the forefront, enabling us to impact individuals and our community personally," said Stampede of Service student volunteer Stephanie Senatus in a press release issued by USF.
This year students are adopting the motto “make a difference today, make a difference every day,” in hopes of taking the experience of giving back to the community during the SOS event and inspiring volunteer work on a regular basis. On Saturday, student volunteers will check-in for their team assignment during a kickoff event from 8-9 a.m. at the USF Track and Field Stadium, before heading off to their service experience destinations. The event concludes with students returning to campus for lunch and a variety of activities, including music and outdoor games.
"There is so much power in 3,000-plus students giving back on one day, and we hope that students realize they can continue to make that same difference every day," said Mallory Trochesset, Associate Director of USF’s Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement.