Maryville Reaches Out: 1,000 Volunteers Strong

MRO Continues to Build Bridges Between Campus and Community

by Megan Schelich and Andrea Fandino

Reading time: 3 minutes

Students, faculty and staff fanned out across the greater St. Louis area on Tuesday, Sept. 22, in support of the eighth annual Maryville Reaches Out (MRO) day of service. Volunteers enjoyed the opportunity to give back, and local agency staff members appreciated the assistance.

“The students got into it right away, I was really impressed,” said Charles Fischer, manager at Canterbury Enterprises. Student volunteers packaged products for a business, while working alongside adults with disabilities. “It was just a very collective effort on their end to help us get something done. And they even stayed a little longer to make sure two jobs would finish up.”

The University’s day of community service has grown from 863 volunteers in 2008 to more than 1000 participants this year. Over the past eight years, more than 8,000 volunteers have donated about 25,000 hours of service to 624 projects. The event exemplifies Maryville’s commitment to integrate civic engagement with academics, and helps promote social responsibility and community service.

Kathy Quinn, dean of student life, directed MRO with the help of Rita Allen, student coordinator. Awareness of the day’s activities was more widespread than in the past, thanks to an increased emphasis on social media coverage. “This year, we were trying to utilize social media better, Snapchat in particular, to share our experiences,” she said.

“We used social media to place a mirror in front of the good work being done across St. Louis — not to brag, but to educate the community on the wonderful, deserving organizations that need a helping hand, and to inspire others to give back,” said Chris Reimer, associate director of digital media.

Individuals chose an MRO volunteer project from a roster of nearly 100 agencies seeking assistance.

Adrian George, a first-year student, helped out by deep cleaning at Boys Hope Girls Hope. “In high school, I did a lot of community service,” he says. “I enjoy giving back. Working together also builds a sense of family between one another.”

Elizabeth Kiblinger, senior, participated in her fourth MRO this fall. “I’ve worked with kids every year,” she said. “It’s great to have such a big presence in the community, doing good things and giving back.”

Jamie Melton, coordinator of special programs at Cornerstone Center for Early Learning, was excited to welcome Maryville again this year.

“We appreciate Maryville students because they always come with bright smiles and willing attitudes,” Melton said. “We had a large group and they all just jumped right in. I think they had a good time. I know our kids did, and our teachers were happy for the extra hands.”

Quinn sees a lot of benefit for volunteers who participate in Maryville Reaches Out. “I think there is so much to gain from giving back, just from exposure to an agency or an area students may not have experienced before,” she says. “The opportunity to work with students, faculty and staff you may not know, and may have not had an opportunity to otherwise meet, is an experience you share. The biggest thing it does is broaden people’s perspectives.”