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Spartans Serve Goes from One Day of Giving to a Year-Round Spirit of Volunteerism

A student sitting on a purple Adirondack chair on main campus lawn

Spartan Service Day—now Spartans Serve—used to present a day focused on giving back. This year, students jumped at the opportunity to shift that mentality to creating multiple initiatives.

 

For one day of the year, Spartans Serve presented a campus-wide push for students to give back to the York community. But, when the pandemic changed things, instead of giving up on their mission of giving back, York College of Pennsylvania students decided to shift their mentality to creating multiple initiatives focused on community service.

“The collective spirit of Spartan Service Day was wonderful,” says Alex Burkhardt ’23, a Psychology major at York College from Abingdon, Maryland. “The problem with keeping it to one day was that not everyone could participate that day or sometimes organizations could not benefit from the work of York College students beyond that single opportunity. This was a chance to think outside the box.”

As an Eisenhart Community Scholar, Burkhardt is part of a group of students dedicated to finding ways to make York better through volunteerism. By fostering connections between the campus and the surrounding community, Eisenhart Scholars make meaningful, impactful change in the lives of others.

It’s a mission that’s been incredibly personal to Burkhardt, who was drawn to the program as a way to continue the spirit of service she was first drawn to in high school. “I’m not originally from this area, so I recognize that if York is going to feel like home to me, I need to get involved beyond what the College offers,” she says. “This community is a great place. And I might not have known that as much as I do without being an Eisenhart Scholar.”

Giving back

Three different events were planned in the past year as part of the Spartans Serve series. Each had a goal of helping students find ways to engage with the local community and get involved. The first event was a lecture by Cody Miller, Director of Service Initiatives at the Center for Community Engagement. With his unique connections to York, as well as the various scholars who are engaged in the community, he was able to share a wide variety of opportunities with students.

The second event was a card writing initiative, featuring local artist and the Director of Communications at the Cultural Alliance of York County, Rita Whitney ’10, who was a former Appell Arts Fellow with the College. The cards were distributed to local nursing homes where residents may not have been able to see loved ones because of the pandemic.

The last event was a community service panel, where representatives from local organizations answered questions ranging from the services they provide to how they could use virtual support from volunteers. Each event helped Burkhardt learn new ways she could leave an impact, even if COVID-19 has changed the way volunteering is commonly done.

“I hope students realize that service is not something that has to be contained to one day or one event,” Burkhardt says. “It’s something that needs ongoing attention if we really want to impact change. I’ve seen York College and its students do great things in this community, and I’m excited to see that continue.”