Moments of Gratitude on Day of Service

What do you think most college students are doing at 8:00 on a Saturday morning? I’ll admit: It can be difficult to start your weekends at an early hour. For the past five days, exams, club meetings and coffee breaks with friends have overwhelmed your schedule. For many students like myself, a Saturday morning is the time to get some rest and relax before another busy week. There is one Saturday morning in particular, however, that has students focused on something different.

Every September, the St. Thomas of Villanova Day of Service gives Villanova students the opportunity to give back to the community surrounding our university. When I signed up for Day of Service with my freshman orientation group, I remember feeling a little hesitant. Do I really want to get up that early on a Saturday? What kind of work are we going to be doing? Can one person really make that big a difference?

I had an absolute blast during my first Day of Service. I remember spreading mulch around a newly built playground in Philadelphia and picking thousands of weeds out of a community garden. Of course, I’ll never forget how appreciative the people were to receive our help, but what was just as rewarding were the memories I had made during that day. Freshman year, it was great to spend the day with the first friends I had made at Villanova. Sophomore year, I became even closer with members of my sorority who I thought I already knew. I saw that by working as a team, we were able to do something that much greater than ourselves, and the ability to see exactly how I can make a difference is comparable to that extra hour of sleep.

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Villanova University takes great pride in its dedication to service, and Day of Service represents just a slice of all the work students contribute. What I love most about Day of Service, however, is how much it reminds me of how grateful I am to be a member of the Nova Nation. One of my goals recently has been to focus more on the things I do have as compared to the things I might want. Nobody’s life is perfect, and as we complain about a stressful assignment or an argument with a friend, it’s important that we take a moment to look around and see what we already have. I have great friends. I am receiving an excellent education. I can make the choice to sleep in on a Saturday morning. Day of Service reminds me to not only embrace what I have, but help those who might not have what they need.

As I finish up my third year participating in Day of Service, I am that much more humbled by the work the Villanova community has done to help the larger one. There is nothing better than knowing you can make a difference in someone’s life. I can never fully repay Villanova for the opportunities it has given me, but I can use those opportunities to give back to someone else. Looking around and seeing the difference my friends and I can make in someone’s life is what makes picking weeds, spilled jars of paint, and one less hour of sleep completely worth it.

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