Incoming Swarthmore College freshmen — roughly 400 — will be indoctrinated in community service during the college’s first-ever mass service-providing event on Friday, in which the entire freshman body will volunteer at over a dozen area nonprofits and community centers.
This mass participation is part of the orientation for the incoming freshman class, and was organized by the Dean’s Office and the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility. The work will include just about every aspect of community volunteerism — including helping with farm harvesting, painting murals at an at-risk school, and packing and assisting with the distribution of food packages produced by the Philabundance Food Bank.
“These projects illustrate our commitment to supporting students in making a difference in the world, and give new students a chance to actively engage with our surrounding communities,” said Dean of Students Liz Braun. “We hope this experience will inspire students to continue to explore how they can make a difference locally and globally.”
While most of the activities are confined to Chester — Swarthmore College freshmen will work out of ten different locations there — Philadelphia will also benefit from this outreach initiative. The Books Through Bars project — a nonprofit that sends quality reading materials to inmates, while creating a positive environment for dialogue concerning the justice system — will receive help from a group of 20 students who will assist in sorting and packing books for delivery.
The 2016 class will also visit the YWCA in Chester, participate in the annual Chester Township Cleanup, the Swarthmore-based Children and Adult Disability and Educational Services center and the Swarthmore ABC Girls House.
All told, Swarthmore’s incoming freshmen will volunteer at 18 locations throughout the region, including the Conshohocken-based Cradles to Crayons outfit and the essential Parents of Murdered Children Living Memorial Garden in Aston, Pa.
“This innovative and expanded orientation activity illustrates the vital role community involvement plays in the life and values of Swarthmore’s students,” says Lang Center Executive Director Joy Charlton, who will be dispatching 25 Swarthmore freshmen. “The integration of academic interests and community engagement is what makes a Swarthmore education unique and why many students choose to come here. The Lang Center is proud to be a sponsor of this event.”