On making a difference, one day at a time

Billikens+helping+out%3A+Make+a+Difference+Day+was+attended+by+over+4%2C000+students+this+year.%0AAndrew+Trinh+%2F+Contributor
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On making a difference, one day at a time

Billikens helping out: Make a Difference Day was attended by over 4,000 students this year.
Andrew Trinh / Contributor

Billikens helping out: Make a Difference Day was attended by over 4,000 students this year. Andrew Trinh / Contributor

Andrew Trinh

Billikens helping out: Make a Difference Day was attended by over 4,000 students this year. Andrew Trinh / Contributor

Andrew Trinh

Andrew Trinh

Billikens helping out: Make a Difference Day was attended by over 4,000 students this year. Andrew Trinh / Contributor

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Helping others: Students participate in Make a Difference Day by volunteering throughout the city of St. Louis. Andrew Trinh / Contributor

Helping others: Students participate in Make a Difference Day by volunteering throughout the city of St. Louis.
Andrew Trinh / Contributor

On Saturday, Oct. 25, Saint Louis University came together once again to celebrate Make a Difference Day. The day, marked by service, brought together over 4,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni and parents to support nonprofit schools, churches and homes in the St. Louis area.

Sophomore Meredith Hargis added, “There are over 170 sites that the SLU community serves, with a wide variety of people and places. Each year is bound to be unique. This year I had the opportunity to serve at Carver Elementary School and help fix up the playground.” Hargis hopes that each year will bring her to a new site, for a new adventure.

“SLU’s mission statement says ‘The Mission of Saint Louis University’ is the pursuit of truth for the greater glory of God and for the service of humanity. By attending MADD, I am truly living out the Jesuit mission,” beamed Hargis.

While it may seem that MADD is only a one-day event, there is a lot of behind-the-scenes planning. Caroline Usher, the VP of Public Relations, stated that the planning began in July when they contacted sites for projects as well as started to get sponsors to donate to the event. Once the school year started, the MADD committee came together to start marketing and planning logistics for the day.

Usher’s role involved designing the banners and flyers and providing information about the event via twitter. She added, “Finally, we started a ‘How do you make a difference?’ campaign, asking students and staff around campus to tell us how they make a difference in the world or at SLU.”

This year’s MADD had its biggest turnout to date. President Fred P. Pestello kicked off the day, delivering an encouraging and empowering speech before the service portion began. He later reflected on the success of the day, in an email to students, saying, “Saturday, I was moved to see literally 4,000 Billikens rise and go out across our community to spend the day lending a hand. Our 17th annual Make a Difference Day was an inspiring and impressive culmination to the week.”

“This day was made successful by the community partners and the thousands of Billikens willing to give their time to such an enormous event,” said Usher, who volunteered at The Sanctuary, an afterschool program for kids. She helped run the Halloween Bash, paint a mural and work the face painting station.

However, the service does not end after the students return to SLU. Father Stark stressed the idea of continued service. He hoped MADD inspired people to participate in not just one day of service, but also a lifetime of service. MADD should be viewed as an experiential learning opportunity that shows what it truly means to be men and women for and with others.

To any student reluctant to attend Make a Difference Day, the committee encourages students to be part of a huge moment in Billiken history. SLU MADD is one of the biggest collegiate days of service in the country, and the more Billikens that participate, the larger the difference makes in the St. Louis area.

The committee’s ultimate goal is to make each year more memorable than the last. After MADD, a survey is sent out to all participants to inquire about each student’s experience. The committee takes into consideration respondents’ comments and suggestions for continued improvement for the event.

However, before planning for next year, the committee has turned its attention to Showers of Service. Their hope is to make Showers of Service as successful as MADD and further improve the Saint Louis community.

“In the end, it is about the community and improving their lives,” concluded Hargis.

Billikens helping out: Make a Difference Day was attended by over 4,000 students this year. Andrew Trinh / Contributor

Billikens helping out: Make a Difference Day was attended by over 4,000 students this year.
Andrew Trinh / Contributor