PDT Staff Writer
For five years Shawnee State University students have given back via community service on the Saturday before classes start in an event called ‘SSU Gives Back’.
On Saturday an estimated 500 SSU students spent part of the day volunteering at 36 different work sites throughout the community.
Nikki Karabinis, Coordinator for the SSU Center for Community Service, said some of the organizations in which students were volunteering included Sierra’s Haven, Greenup County Habitat For Humanity, Shawnee State Forest, Operation Christmas Child, Cirque d’Art Theatre, Portsmouth Area Arts Council, Potter’s House Ministries and many others.
Also among the sites were Mound Park and at the offices of the Ohio River Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross.
“We’ve got a beautiful park here that’s a real asset to the community and we wanted to do everything we could to make it a nice place for the people to enjoy,” said Rebecca Ratliff, event organizer at Mound Park.
Ratliff estimated 20 members of the community that came out and a number of SSU students aided in the efforts Saturday afternoon.
When asked why they would take on such a task, Ratliff said, “Because it needed done.”
Ratliff said among the volunteers were City Service Director Bill Beaumont and Portsmouth City Councilmen Kevin W. Johnson and Kevin E. Johnson.
At the Red Cross offices students planted five rose bushes that represented each branch of the United States military.
“When our service members are overseas the Red Cross supports their family members. We provide training for them to be ready when their service member comes home. If there is a need for emergency communication that’s needed, the Red Cross are the people that delivers those messages,” Eli Allen, Disaster Services Coordinator for the Ohio River Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross said.
Allen said the planting of the rose bushes was the show support for the armed forces.
“This is a small token but, it symbolizes our dedication the the armed forces, their families and the veterans both past, present and future,” Allen said.
When asked what kind of impact the annual event has on the community and the students who participate, Karabinis said, “It makes a huge impact for both them and the community. This is a good opportunity for them to meet some of the locals and build networks with some of the people they may not have come across without having done this.”
She said the event also serves as an opportunity for the students to get to know their fellow classmates.
“The main goal for the students to give back to the community they are going to live in for the next two to four years,” Karabinis said.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.