By Liz Warren-Pederson
A brigade of Eller undergraduates over 400 strong volunteered in the Tucson community October 22 as part of Make a Difference Day, a national movement founded by USA WEEKEND magazine.
The students completed projects in nine sites throughout Tucson in conjunction with Tucson Clean and Beautiful, City of Tucson Parks and Recreation, Pima County, Tanque Verde Unified School District, Salvation Army, Ben’s Bells Project, and other organizations.
In one of those projects, Eller students were deployed to clean four miles of graffiti around Tucson, including a mile-long stretch at the Alamo Wash (Lee and Alamo) and a two-mile stretch in the diversion channel from Alvernon to Palo Verde. Other projects included removing grasses in the 800 tree wells along the Santa Cruz River and a host of neighborhood cleanups.
This was the first year that the event — previously known as Eller College Philanthropy — was coordinated to align with national Make a Difference Day. Pre-business student Shauna Williams helped coordinate the event on behalf of Eller Undergraduate Programs, and said that tying the event to the national project made the students feel connected to a larger movement. “We continually reminded the volunteers that they would be a part of the millions across the nation making a difference,” she said.
The event came together in eight weeks of planning. “We kept our goals high,” Williams said. She aimed to get 650 volunteers through 16 Eller clubs and four non-Eller clubs, plus $580 in donations. “We exceeded nearly every goal: 662 RSVPs, 19 Eller organizations, 10 non-Eller organizations, and $1,300 in donations, plus breakfast to feed 600,” she said. “The bottom line is that our hard-working committees rocked it and returned some impressive results.”
“Students realize their responsibility for creating positive social change in their community,” said Karen Johnston, a student team leader said. “We find that we have the power to make a big impact and it’s important to feel empowered about our community. We are looking forward to stepping up to make a difference while working shoulder to shoulder with our neighbors to help make Tucson a better place to learn and live.”
Williams agreed: “As business students, we are preparing ourselves to take on the responsibility of improving our world, our nation, our economy, and our community. Giving back to the community is very empowering; watching your efforts make a difference really gives you a sense of pride.”
She’s also thinking about next year already. “It will be a challenge to top this year’s results,” she said, “but I am already thinking of some new additions for next year to get more of the community involved.”
Learn more about involvement and leadership opportunities in Eller Undergraduate Programs.