Hundreds of OU students participate in annual Make a Difference Day


Photo courtesy of the Office for Student Involvement

On Oct. 16., hundreds of OU students participated in the university’s Make a Difference Day. Students helped at 11 different sites around the community.

There are many valuable volunteer opportunities here at Oakland University — one of these being Make a Difference Day 2021, which occurred on Oct. 16. This national service day opportunity allowed OU students to help several non-profit organizations. In addition, students were given a chance to help out all around the community. No matter how big or small the service is, they made a difference.

“There is a variety of services taking place,” said Daryl Blackburn, coordinator of leadership and service programs at the office of student involvement (OSI) at OU. “We have about 11 different sites that we are sending people to. We have a group going to The Bottomless Toy Chest in Troy, where they will be wrapping toys in silicone wrapping that will be given to children going through hard times. We have people going to the Stage Nature Center; what they’re going to be doing is helping preserve the center before winter comes. We have people going to Reroot Pontiac. We have sites that have been developed on campus. So, on campus will be making fabric loops for Arts and Scarps in Detroit, and we will be making blankets that will be donated to different hospitals. Another one is Oakland Hope, where they will be working with the food pantry and clothes closet.”

The event ran from 8:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. as OU students met at Hannah Hall to sign up for registration. Then, groups departed from OU between 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m to go to their assigned service locations. Lunch was provided, and students were responsible for their transportation. Students were sent to a mixture of non-profit organizations and completed different service projects.

“These students will be working either in a community they haven’t worked, or a non-profit that they haven’t worked with before,” Blackburn said. “It’s going to open up their horizons to see different experiences and what other people may be going through. They are going to realize that what they are doing is so helpful.”

Non-profit organizations need help, especially now — during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ability for students to go out and volunteer for others not only supports the community, but themselves. It is an opportunity to learn and grow as a person.

“They can learn the value and power of lending a helping hand,” said Emily Bernas, graduate assistant in the leadership and volunteer center. “Learning the power of community, because they all are going out in groups too so hopefully they’ll bond with the people in their group and bond with the different organizations they are helping.”

Volunteer events like Make a Difference Day are critical to OU and the people who participate in them.

Students have plenty of opportunities to volunteer at a similar event — MLK day of service — coming this winter. For more information on upcoming events, visit GrizzOrgs.