400 to participate in First-Year Day of Service

Students gather for a group photo before breaking off with their teams. Photos courtesy of PBHA

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On Saturday, Sept. 8, more than 400 members of Harvard’s Class of 2022, along with faculty, staff, and upper-level student team leaders, will paint and spruce up local classrooms, clean up parks, beautify open spaces, and plant flowers in partnership with nonprofits and schools in their new community.

Started four years ago, the First-Year Day of Service is now an Opening Days tradition that introduces students to service opportunities at Harvard and beyond. Students will work with over two dozen partner sites, including the City of Boston, the Cambridge Community Foundation, and United Way, on service projects to help schools and community organizations have a successful start to fall programming. This is the first year that the First-Year Day of Service will equally serve both the Cambridge and Boston communities.

“Harvard College’s mission to ‘educate citizen and citizen-leaders for our society’ has called on our students to look beyond the gates of Harvard Yard while they are here and engage with the communities beyond,” said Sheila Thimba, interim assistant dean of Harvard College for public service.

Katie O’Dair, dean of students at Harvard College, reiterated that “civic and community engagement are critically important for Harvard College students, who will one day be leaders in communities across the world. We encourage students to go beyond the walls of campus to contribute meaningfully to the Cambridge and Boston communities in ways that establish trust, mutual understanding and learning, and longstanding connection.”

Students get a pep talk on the Science Center Plaza before starting their clean up duties.

The Cambridge Community Foundation, which supports shared prosperity, social equity and cultural richness in Cambridge is partnering with Phillips Brooks House to increase the number of Cambridge-based nonprofits volunteers will serve.

“Cambridge is a city of prosperity, but it’s also a city with more than 14 percent childhood poverty, where many families struggle with social and economic inequality,” said Geeta Pradhan, president of the Cambridge Community Foundation. “This is an important opportunity to connect our newest Harvard neighbors to the organizations and spaces in the city they will call home for the next few years. In their first act of civic engagement here, students will help support organizations that address the challenges our city faces and learn about the wonderful diversity and vibrancy of the neighborhoods and people who make Cambridge such a great place to live, work and learn.”