Decade of volunteerism: Barton students pitch in for Wilson nonprofits

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Click the play button to watch a video of Barton College Day of Service projects.

Barton College knows how to give back.

More than 700 students and faculty members fanned out across Wilson to contribute their time and effort at 35 sites in a spirit of volunteerism on Wednesday.

“The Day of Service is an annual event that centers around community service and giving back to Wilson,” said Jamie Eubanks, chaplain at Barton College. “We have been given so many opportunities here at the college and it’s just the spirit of giving back and providing for those in the community.”

This is the 10th year for the project, which was started by Hollie Woodruff, Eubanks’ predecessor.

Woodruff was working in the community and saw a need.

“So she got together with some of the people here at the school and it just grew into a bigger event every year and now, 10 years later, here we are,” Eubanks said. “We have sports teams, freshman seminar classes, sororities, fraternities, clubs. It’s early, but they are eager to go.”

“We stop classes twice in the year, once for research in the spring and then for Day of Service in the fall,” said Doug Searcy, president of Barton College. “It just demonstrates a priority of giving back to the community, participating with Wilson.”

“What’s good for Wilson is great for Barton and what’s good for Barton is good for Wilson,” Searcy said. “We believe it’s just a great relationship between the two and it’s also an educational tool for our students. We really believe that when they graduate, we have tried to help them to become good citizens and positive members of the community and learning to give back together is a great skill for the future. It helps them understand what citizenship is all about.”

Haley Sauls, from Raleigh, a senior at Barton College, joined nine other students at Hearne Elementary School to help teachers with students.

“This is the fourth time I have gotten to do the Day of Service,” Sauls said. “I know it’s something that the college looks forward to and it’s something that the students look forward to as well. I am an education major so I have been to the school a couple of times before and I am excited to come back to the school and work with the kids.”

Sauls said it is important to give back, especially in the community where a person lives.

“I think that it is good to give back to the places that have given so much to you throughout the years,” Sauls said.

Junior Michael Tyler, a member of the men’s volleyball team, joined 30 other student-athletes at St. Therese Catholic Church for yard work.

“We currently are doing mulch and on the other side some of my teammates are doing gardening and picking up weeds and some of the other workers are placing down the mulch and spreading it over the flower beds,” Tyler said. “I feel great giving to the community. The Barton community does as well. We love working for the people around us to help them out, and hopefully they feel the love we feel for them.”

Wilson native Eugenia Pittman, now a senior at Barton College, went back to school as an adult to get a degree in social work.

“It has been a long journey,” Pittman said as she joined other students at the Boys and Girls Club to clean out the food pantry.

“Right now we are cleaning out the pantry, gathering up food products that are outdated,” Pitman said. “If the food is not outdated, we are actually sorting them on the shelves. We have beans, corn, yam, all types of canned goods. We also have soups and teas and all other things that the people in the community can use. It’s my first experience. I am in my senior year in my social work program. I plan on working most likely in a community like the Boys and Girls Club or a community service program with the schools, so I am enjoying the experience myself.”

At The SPOT, members of the Lamda Alpha Epsilon fraternity, a criminal justice club at Barton College, were painting the steps in the main building.

Senior Riley McIntosh, New Bern, had volunteered there before.

“We volunteer here at The SPOT because this is a youth provention program that helps kids and gives them something to do so they don’t get into trouble,” MaIntosh said. They have some really cool programs here and we really enjoy helping out. Our criminal justice program actually has an internship here. That’s another reason we help out.”

McIntosh said it is a good way to get involved.

“It’s a good way to hang out with people that you like and to help people who need it,” McIntosh said. “I think if you have the ability, you should.”

Barton student leader Marcella Medley joined staff members from Barton as a representative of the Minority Student Association as they cleaned and arranged trophy cases at the Sallie B. Howard School for the Arts and Education.

“It just shows the community that you care,” Medley said. “I go to Barton, so I’m just kind of here. I don’t have a lot of opportunities to get out into Wilson except on days like this or other opportunities, so it’s just nice to let Wilson know that I’m not here just going to school. I’m here to make Wilson better. I care about community service. I try to give back wherever I can.”

Biology professor Jane Kolunie joined other faculty members and science students making improvements to the Wilson Educational Forest

“It has been 10 years that Barton College has been doing Day of Service at places around Wilson and in the community,” Kolunie said. “We have been coming to the educational forest for maybe three or four years. We think it’s a great project because for the science students, sometimes we can do a little education along the way too and application of things they have learned about flora and fauna and the area and also the fact that we are helping the community in an environmental way.”

Projects including cleaning pathways, planting trees, trimming invasive species, installing signs and putting up birdhouses.

“It’s another opportunity for us to work with the students not in a classroom,” Kolunie said.

Kevin Pennington, dean of Barton’s School of Sciences, led the effort at the forest.

“One of the things we are accomplishing out here today is just getting the students outside,” Pennington said. “This one of my favorite events at the school. I was here 10 years ago when we had our inaugural Day of Service and it is great to see how it has grown.”