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Make a difference day returns to FGCU

For the fourth consecutive year, FGCU will celebrate national Make a Difference Day Saturday, Oct. 24.

Kelsey Wilkinson, an FGCU service learning program assistant, said Make a Difference Day helps FGCU achieve its goal of emphasizing the value of public service, commitment to nurturing community partnerships and the importance of having an informed and engaged citizenry.

“MADD gives students a chance to work alongside faculty, staff, alumni and administrators to make a difference in our community,” Wilkinson said. “It is also a great way for our faculty, staff and administrators to lead by example and show students and our community that we don’t just say we are committed to service; we really go out and serve together.”

Over 350 volunteers have participated at 12 different locations each year, designating Make a Difference Day as a major FGCU tradition in the eyes of many.

“Our hope with this event each year is that students are able to learn about our community, the issues we face and how they can become involved in making a difference,” Wilkinson said.

Tatiana Rodriguez, a senior at FGCU, has participated in the event every year, since it was initially introduced on campus.

“My freshman year was the first year of Make a Difference Day,” Rodriguez said. “I loved it so much that I wanted to continue doing it every year. It has become an amazing tradition here at FGCU.”

This will be her fourth consecutive year helping local organizations in the hope of bettering the local community in the month of October.

“Since I was young, my family educated me on the importance of giving and serving others,” Rodriguez said. “I have always enjoyed volunteering in many different projects and service learning opportunities that change a community for the better and, at the same time, bring people together to work on a common goal.”

Rodriguez said she finds her inspiration to help others, in part, because of FGCU.

“Going to a school that is defined by commitment to service and community engagement inspires me to continue my desire for serving others, and it gives me the opportunity to take what I learn in the classroom and put it into action,” she said.

Gulf Coast Humane Society, Valerie’s House, Cypress Cove Retirement Center and FGCU Family Resource Center are a few of the organizations that participants will have a chance to work with at the event.

Prospective volunteers can register through an online application process, which has had all its spots filled preemptively due to a large number of initial sign-ups this year. A waitlist system has been implemented for any additional interested students or faculty who still wish to join.

Wilkinson has asked anyone interested to contact her at kwilkinson@fgcu.edu in order to be added to the list.

MADD will take place from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Volunteers are advised to arrive at Alico Arena at 8 a.m. for check-in. A free t-shirt and breakfast will be provided for everyone who participates.

Buses leave 9 a.m. for the agencies off campus.

“I recommend students participate in MADD in order to actually experience what it is like, to see how a small change can make a huge difference,” Rodriguez said. “It only takes one person to make a difference: imagine what it is like to have an entire community work together for the same cause.”

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