On Sept. 29, UNLVolunteers hosted their first Service Day at the Student Union Ballroom. Students first met at the Student Union to receive a free breakfast and t-shirt, then walked to their respective volunteer locations. For almost 10 years, Service Day has been bringing volunteers to over 10 different community partners. One of those community partners is the UNLV Campus Community Garden.
Every semester, a group of UNLVolunteers comes out to the garden. Andie Davis, a landscape architecture student and the UNLV Campus Community Garden Coordinator, says, “They help out quite a lot. This semester will be really helpful. Sometimes the garden already looks great by the time Service Day comes around, but it’s really going to be helpful this semester. [The garden] looks rough, this past summer’s been hot and we haven’t been able to get a lot of volunteers [to clean up the garden] yet.”
Volunteers were split up into groups that de-weeded garden beds, swept, threw away trash and took out dead plants. One group pulled invasive grass out of a garden bed, digging up their roots. In another garden bed, the roots of a plant were so deep that they shoveled dirt out of the entire bed. In the spring, Home Depot donated various flower plants to the garden to make use of plants that would otherwise be thrown away.
Alejandra Casas Sáenz, an UNLV student that volunteered at the garden, says, “I just recently joined Rebel Roots Garden Club and they advertised the event.” One week before Service Day, on Sept. 22, Casas Sáenz attended the first general meeting of Rebel Roots Garden Club, where they advertised Service Day. Casas Sáenz continues, “I honestly think the biggest value [volunteering brings] is community. You get to know a lot of your community when you’re volunteering, and it feels even better to give back. Especially in a big city like this, you feel disconnected from your community, but when you volunteer, you definitely get a taste of what’s around.”
Jacinto Alfaro, another UNLV student that volunteered at the garden, says, “It’s a nice opportunity to volunteer, to get some volunteer hours and do some research for my second-year seminar class. I’m pretty excited … The hardest part is coming here but after that it’s enjoyable and easy, so get over the first hurdle of signing up and you might enjoy it more than you think you will.”
Casas Sáenz also encourages others to also volunteer, saying, “Do it. You get to meet so many new friends. I’ve never had a bad volunteering day. It’s always very fulfilling and once it’s done, you think, ‘Wow. I did that.’”Davis adds, “I’m really grateful when people sign up for these events. Service isn’t easy, especially for the garden. It takes a lot for people to show up and that’s what makes it so important. We need people to help do the hard stuff to keep the garden going. It’s important not only for the organization but also for personal development.” Service Day at the UNLV Campus Community Garden ended with volunteers filling out a report on what they did and walking to the Student Union to receive their free lunch. To learn more about volunteering, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the UNLV Campus Community Garden, email email@example.com.