Members of many Elon organizations gathered in Harden Clubhouse 9 a.m. Saturday, March 3 to benefit a cause they said they felt was well worth waking up early for.

These students were participating in Impact Day: A Day of Service, an event that promotes community service at several sites in Elon and the towns surrounding it.

“I think (service) is an important part of being a student at Elon,” said Brittany Walker, chairwoman of the event.

Walker decided to organize the event after she learned the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement had chosen not to host it, as it had in the past.

[quote]I think it’s always good to take part in an event that gives back to the community. -- Candice Blacknall, Impact Day participant.[/quote]

Walker said her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, considers community service one of its core values, and its members agreed to host Impact Day to benefit those in need.

“We thought it was such an amazing day that people could volunteer for,” Walker said.

Walker said she was eager to expose participants of Impact Day to a wider range of service opportunities than they may not have known existed.

In order to partner with a variety of service locations, Walker personally contacted the Elon community partners listed on the university’s website, many of which she coordinated with in the past as the director of the Kernodle Center’s Leadership in Collaborative Services.

She then worked with the service sites that responded to her emails to identify their greatest areas of need, some of which called for labor-intensive projects.

“We’re cleaning out stables, we’re digging up gardens and we’re weeding,” Walker said. “One of the sites has a five mile path they asked us to clean.”

Members of Delta Sigma Theta responded to the challenge by advertising Impact Day on classroom whiteboards, recruiting volunteers via email and promoting the event on Facebook.

Nevertheless, Walker identified recruiting participants as one of the greatest challenges she faced while organizing Impact Day. Her sorority's size, one of the smallest organizations on campus, made organization especially difficult, she said.

Impact Day attracted 28 volunteers willing to brave the rainy weather on a Saturday morning in order to participate.

“I think it’s always good to take part in an event that gives back to the community,” said Candice Blacknall, an Impact Day participant.

Blacknall said one of the reasons she felt compelled to volunteer was a familiarity with some of the service sites volunteers visited.

“I know their history, and I know their struggle to get volunteers,” she said.

Other participants expressed an appreciation for the way Impact Day made community service so accessible to the students. The fact that Delta Sigma Theta organized the event and provided transportation to the service sites was seen as a benefit of taking part in this community service opportunity.

After the volunteers arrived at Harden Clubhouse in the morning, they were divided into small groups and assigned to a service location.

Some of the sites visited include North Carolina Therapeutic Riding Center, Family Abuse Services, Kopper Top Life Learning Center and Allied Churches Of Alamance County.