April 06, 2011

Students to participate in service projects

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- As the fourth anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings approaches, students at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will participate in a Day of Service in recognition of those affected by violence on campuses everywhere.

The Austin Cloyd Service Day will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 16 at SIUC with students participating in various service projects. Some of the student volunteers will watch a brief PowerPoint about children in Zambia who have lost both parents to AIDS before designing and creating T-shirts for the AIDS orphans using materials the Office of Service-Learning and Volunteerism is providing.

Students will also participate in “Club Care Day” at the Carbondale Boys and Girls Club. There, they’ll help with a big spring cleaning project by painting, gardening, making signs, picking up leaves and litter, cleaning windows and doing bleacher maintenance work. Some volunteers will assist with office work at The Breast Center in Carbondale as well.

To register to participate in Austin’s Day, students must contact the SIUC Office of Service- Learning and Volunteerism on the third floor of the Student Center no later than 4 p.m. April 12. When they sign up, they’ll get details about where and when to show up for their specific community service. Students can also call 618/453-5714 for details. Volunteers will get free Austin’s Day bracelets.

Leslie Freels Lloyd, associate professor of health care management, suggested “Austin’s Day” after she learned one of her students, Christina Meo, experienced the Northern Illinois University shootings in 2008. Meo, a senior health care management major from Chicago, said she was in a nearby building on the NIU campus when the shootings occurred. While not physically injured, she said she learned first-hand how such violence has far-reaching effects. She now encourages others to honor the lives of students lost and harmed by school violence by volunteering and serving others. She can be reached via email at cmeo@siu.edu.

Lloyd said she has another personal connection to school violence. Austin Cloyd, a Champaign native and one of the Virginia Tech victims, was the niece of Lloyd’s college roommate, Brenda Cloyd. Lloyd said Austin’s Day falls during National Volunteer Week and that the event, originating with the Champaign Rotary Club, honors Cloyd and others who have suffered in any way due to school violence by encouraging community service.

“In order to honor those who have passed and those who have survived, as well as to raise the community’s awareness of the reality of school shootings, Christina and I felt moved to hold this event and the Office of Service-Learning and Volunteerism is assisting us by coordinating the effort,” Lloyd said.