WILKES-BARRE — Classes aren’t in session yet, but incoming freshmen at Wilkes University already have made an impact in their new community.
Nearly 300 incoming freshmen volunteered at 23 locations as part of the college’s civic engagement portion of freshmen orientation.
The program aims to immerse students into their new community and the Wyoming Valley.
Some students got their hands dirty cleaning up an illegal dump site in Nanticoke for the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation.
Others painted kennels and made repairs for the furry residents at Blue Chip Animal Farm near Dallas.
Another group had a more playful task.
A group of students meet with children in Kirby Park to work students in conjunction with Big Brothers, Big Sisters.
Among the students were orientation leader Allison Smith, 18, and Macey McGuire, 21.
McGuire said the university has an E-Mentoring program, and three mentors each had a group of kids at the park.
About 20 Wilkes University students organized a kickball game and had plenty of hula hoops and bubbles to pass around.
“We’re just having fun with the kids and showing them that there’s other things to do besides school and sitting in their house,” Smith said.
Kids could be seen rounding bases during a lively game of kickball, while others sat and chatted with Wilkes students. Others took to the playground with students.
Both Smith and McGuire thought the day went well.
McGuire in particular noted that it can be difficult to get kids to participate. Smith saw it as an opportunity for college students to step outside of their normally-busy schedules to pay it forward.
“I think it’s a great thing, especially for college students,” Smith said.
“Sometimes we get so wrapped up in what we’re doing at school, and it’s a nice refresher to help out the community and give back to where we’re living.”
By the end of the day, several organizations and the greater community benefited from the efforts of Wilkes students. For McGuire, students could also take away something from the community service.
“I think we take away a sense of helping people,” she said. “I hope that the students get that they’re helping children and they can make a difference in their lives.”