While Flagler students Max Dela Merced and Katie Kelderman chatted about their Economics classes on Saturday, they gathered up leaves and polished memorial plaques in the garden behind the Council on Aging, according to a report on “Reach Out Raise Up” activities received by Historic City News.
The breezy and sunny fall day was perfect for sprucing up an outdoor meditation space, and ideal for the community Day of Service sponsored by Flagler College.
“I’ve done community service in the past and really enjoyed it,” Dela Merced said as he raked leaves. “It just gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling at the end of the day.”
Kelderman agreed, and added that volunteering on the college’s day of service better connected her to the greater community.
“It’s a great way to introduce students to places in the community — to be involved and volunteer, instead of just living here” she said.
The students were two of more than 100 Flagler College community members to volunteer in non-profit organizations across the county. Volunteers completed a range of tasks, from landscaping and stocking food pantries to hanging interior artwork and cleaning up debris along Vilano Beach.
“St. Augustine is a tight knit community that has recently been strengthened even more since Hurricane Matthew,” said Timothy Mellon, Flagler director of Student Services who helped oversee the day’s operations. “It makes me proud to see the amazing relationship between our Flagler students and our city.”
Organizations taking part in the day included: St. Augustine Center for Living, Haven Horse Ranch, Alpha Omega Miracle Home, Betty Griffin Center, United Way of St. Johns County, St. Francis House, Council on Aging, St. Augustine Youth Services, St. Johns Parks and Recreation, St. Augustine Wildlife Reserve and the Sertoma Second Time Around thrift store.
At St. Francis House, a homeless shelter in downtown St. Augustine, students helped restock the food pantry.
“Especially after the hurricane, there is clearly a need around town for volunteers,” Sophomore Colton Neubauer said. “If you look here, it’s evident.”
Neubauer motioned to the interior of the building, stripped of drywall from last month’s storm flooding. He was joined by six other Flagler students who were unloading food items and organizing the food supply. Saturday’s event was the college’s second day of service. The inaugural “Reach Out Raise Up” was held in February.
“It’s rewarding to do this — extremely rewarding,” the Political Science major said. “And it gives me hope in my fellow Flagler students when they’re up and at the student center at 8:00 a.m. to volunteer to help others.”