By Lauren Lavelle
Around 200 Rider students participated in the annual 9/11 Day of Service on Sept. 9 to honor those who lost their lives 16 years ago.
With activities ranging from gardening at the Lawrence Nature Center to cleaning up the streets of Trenton, students were split into groups and dispersed throughout the community to serve those in need.
“This day is important because so many members of the Rider family have been affected,” said Joan Liptrot, assistant director of campus life for service learning. “9/11 has really changed our country. We saw a change in service, the way people connected and interacted and helped out their communities. So it’s a day to remind us that we’re all in this together and we can rely on each other.”
One of the newer initiatives had students going door to door throughout the community to interact with residents and provide them with helpful tools for emergency situations.
“It’s called ‘We Stand Strong,’” said senior health science major and campus engagement intern Aleyja Aguirre. “We put together emergency kits with magnets on the back. In it is a piece of paper that tells you everything you should put in it, your birth certificate, your social security card. We go door to door, we ask people to review it, put their information in it and post it on their fridges. So, in the event of an emergency, you grab your kit and all your vital documents are inside.”
Along with the annual 9/11 Day of Service, other service learning opportunities are held once a month to encourage students to donate their time to others.
“Personally, I think there is a lot to gain from service,” added Greg Bardzell, community service coordinator and director. “After performing and engaging in service, you have time to reflect and see the difference you’re making. It’s more than just performing service; it’s also the message behind it and realizing these topics exist.”
Liptrot, who is currently working on a Civic Action plan for the university, feels Rider students in particular should engage in service activities because of the high level of poverty in the area.
“The plan is a part of Campus Compact, which is a national higher education organization, and it’s a commitment to look at the purpose of higher education,” said Liptrot. “Education is not just about different subjects. It’s also about learning about the issues that are affecting our communities and other citizens. To have students be here on this beautiful campus when, five minutes down the road, there are people really struggling, it’s a disservice because that’s a valuable part of their education as well.”
As the school years begins, the Office of Service Learning encourages Broncs to get involved in community service initiatives, Liptrot said.
“Every time we plan a campus-wide event, we always hope that it is an entry point for students,” she said. “We want them to see that giving back is a really rewarding experience.”