Hundreds of students gathered in the Arkansas Union International Connections Lounge on Saturday morning to take part in the 26th annual Make A Difference Day, cleaning up outdoor trails, the Fayetteville Public Library and the Potter’s House thrift store.
Mattea Jones, a UA alumna and student engagement advisor for the Volunteer Action Center, thinks Make A Difference Day is especially beneficial for incoming freshmen, she said.
“It’s a great way for students to get involved and to find something that they’re passionate about,” Jones said.
Starting off with about 250 volunteers in 2008, Make A Difference Day now sees a turnout of about 1,000 volunteers each year.
More than 900 volunteers donated 3,000 hours at the UofA in 2018, bringing in over $85,000, according to the Make A Difference Day GivePulse. In the past three years, Make A Difference Day has had a positive economic impact of over $260,000 with over 10,000 volunteer hours.
The award included a $10,000 grant that went toward supplies for future Make A Difference Days, building sheds and other volunteer work, said VAC Director Angela Oxford.
“We’re really a people-based community and we want to reach out to as many students as possible because they can make a difference,” said Erin Womack, the VAC student engagement and communications coordinator.
VAC members hope Make A Difference Day will inspire more students to get involved in the community and volunteer, Womack said.
“It’s important to give back as much as you recieve,” Womack said.
The UA volunteer website, GivePulse, provides more information on how students can get involved and sign up to participate in future VAC projects.