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Rainy weather doesn't dampen Day of Caring

Published on October 24, 2023

Rainy weather doesn't dampen Day of Caring

Student volunteers took on gardening projects at several historic locations in Willimantic.

Student volunteers pose outside the Covenant Soup Kitchen in Willimantic.

Students cleaned up shrubbery in several public areas around Willimantic.

Student volunteers enjoy their progress gardening outside the Covenant Soup Kitchen in Willimantic.

The Center for Community Engagement (CCE) at Eastern Connecticut State University held its annual Day of Caring on Oct. 23, sending upwards of 90 students throughout the local Willimantic community to volunteer with nonprofits.  

Volunteers worked at 10 sites: Grow Windham Community Garden, WAIM, Click commercial kitchen, the Railroad Museum, Whitewater Park, The Mill Museum, Julia de Burgos Park, Abundant Life Community Church, Windham Middle School community garden and the Covenant Soup Kitchen. 

Lexi Mastroianni, coordinator for the CCE, was the primary organizer of the day, providing volunteers with the opportunity to work in a “huge range of different events.” According to her, the community partners are consistent every year, with the variation being in the duties assigned.  

Mastroianni spent much of the day traveling from site to site to oversee the various projects; two especially busy ones being the Covenant Soup Kitchen and The Mill Museum, which volunteers cleaned out in preparation for an upcoming event. 

During the Day of Caring, students kept their heads down until the hard work was done.

Students volunteer at the Covenant Soup Kitchen during the Day of Caring.

Student volunteers rake leaves during the Day of Caring.

Gardening projects extended to downtown Willimantic.

Student volunteers endured the rain while gardening outside the Covenant Soup Kitchen.

CCE student leader Nicole Leyner worked alongside nine volunteers at Click commercial kitchen. After her group was finished composting and clearing out old furniture, the staff at the kitchen gave them a tour of their facilities and taught them about food safety. 

“Our group was super fun, we had a good time even with the weather,” said Leyner.Time really flew by fast.” 

To cover as much ground as possible, the CCE also recruited volunteers from the United Way and the University of Connecticut. The effort also involved organizations around campus, including the NAACP, Eastern’s cheerleading team and members of the Biology Club. Also involved was the men’s lacrosse team. Student leader Jayson Caballero led a group of the lacrosse players to work on gardens at Whitewater Park. 

“I had seven lacrosse boys, all eager to do hard work. Even in the rain they made the best of it,” said Caballero. “It's great seeing different people across campus come together for a common cause.” 

In spite of the rain, the volunteers were able to improvise and alter their tasks accordingly. Student leaders expressed the significance that a positive outlook can have on a team effort, especially when challenged by an outside force. 

“Day of Caring is one of the most impactful events that we facilitate at the CCE and it was really moving to see so many people come out to participate, even in the rain,” said Olivia Gardner, a student leader for the CCE. “A lot of our community relies on these events to help their businesses run smoothly, so it’s really great to see so many Eastern students making that effort to help.”  

Written by Elisabeth Craig