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Apr 15, 2013

Doing for Others

By Katie Curry '13

JMU students helped clean space for new exhibits at the Explore More Discovery Museum
As part of the Big Event activities, JMU students helped the Explore More Discovery Museum in downtown Harrisonburg clean and prepare expanded exhibit space.

On Saturday, April 13, about 700 student volunteers and an estimated 114 alumni in nine different locations participated in a day of community service for the third annual Big Event. They totaled more than 300 hours of community service. The Student Government Association and Student Greater Madison started the event in 2011 as a way for JMU students to demonstrate their appreciation for the surrounding communities.

Participants visited 43 different locations around Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. Volunteers arrived early at the Quad for check-in and were welcomed by President Jonathan Alger and Mark Warner, Vice President of Student Affairs and University Planning.

President Alger asked everyone to remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

"The most important question you can ask yourself in life is 'What are you doing for others?'"

One contingent of students cleaned the entire third floor of the Explore More Discovery Museum and moved items out of the second floor so that the interactive children's museum could expand its exhibits. About 15 volunteers helped move furniture and clean the concrete floor in preparation for remodeling.

"It's a huge project and we definitely couldn't do this without a big group like this," said Mari Kyle, Volunteer Coordinator at the museum in downtown Harrisonburg.

The spirit of giving back was strong in Harrisonburg, and also around the country. Alumni in Philadelphia and Rhode Island did trash pickups (about 500 pounds) to clear neighborhoods. Dukes in Dallas/Fort Worth packaged 7,675 meals for needy families. Another 50 volunteers are expected at service events in Los Angeles, South Africa, San Francisco, Virginia Beach and Washington, D.C. on April 27. All totaled, upward of 150 alumni will devote almost 450 hours of community service as part of the Big Event.

"Alumni are standing with us," said President Alger.  "The JMU family is together in celebrating this event and giving back."