Program promoted service opportunities and commemorated September 11th National Day of Service.
Meaghan Haugh

During their first weekend at Rider University, 85 freshmen and transfer students worked alongside 15 upperclassmen, engaging in service projects throughout the Mercer County area. It was all part of the New Student Day of Service, organized to promote various service opportunities available on and off campus.

In the past, the Rider Bonner Community Scholars program, the Rider SERVES community-service organization and the New Student Orientation staff have held the program prior to move-in day. This year, however, organizers waited until the first week of classes were complete in order to attract more students and to coincide with the September 11th National Day of Service. Students were able to sign up for the program during orientation and the first week of classes.

“There are many ways at Rider to give back. This program gives our different service organizations the opportunity to showcase their missions and various ways to serve,” said Christine Cullen, assistant director of the New Student Resource Center. “We are finding that a lot of new students are coming to Rider with a community service background. The day is a great way for them to find their niche at Rider, make new friends and do something they are passionate about.”

Projects included doing yard work and home visiting for Enable, Inc., in Hamilton Square; sorting donations at Rescue Mission of Trenton; gardening for Lawrence Nature Center; cataloging books for Monument Elementary School; and painting classrooms and outside space for John O. Wilson Neighborhood Center through NJCARE’s September 11th Day of Service.

Annie Pasqua, assistant director of Campus Life for Service Learning, said students also had a chance to reflect on their experiences throughout the day.

“The students had a chance to sit in small groups to discuss how service has played an important part in their lives and how they plan to participate in service projects at the University,” Pasqua said. “We wanted to capture the students’ motivation to serve and to stay involved in service during their time at Rider.”

Erica Rubin, a new member educator for Alpha Phi Omega community service fraternity, served as a group leader for the Trenton Rescue Mission volunteer site. As a group leader, Rubin said she worked alongside the freshmen and facilitated meaningful discussions about the service that they were performing.

“I explained to students the personal fulfillment that comes with serving the community,” said Rubin, a senior Elementary Education and Psychology dual major. “I encouraged new students to start their college career by giving back to those who may not have had the opportunity to attend a University, and shared with them the numerous service opportunities that Rider offers.”