NIU Cares Day explained

By Lindsey Rodriguez

NIU Cares Day enters its seventh year of giving back to the DeKalb community on April 20.

Students are welcome to register as a team or individually. March 22 will be the last day to register. The program teams up with partners in DeKalb like the DeKalb Park District, Salvation Army, TAILS Humane Society, DeKalb District 428 schools and the public libraries in the DeKalb and Sycamore area.

NIU Cares Day is sponsored by the Student Involvement and Leadership Development. Destiny McDonald, assistant director for Community Services and coordinator for NIU Cares Day, explains a little more about the event:

Northern Star: What is NIU Cares Day?

Destiny Mcdonald: NIU Cares Day is a campus-wide day for community service. We have NIU members go to different service projects around the area. We work for non-profit organizations.

NS: What do they do?

DM: We transport volunteers or they are able to transport themselves to the agency, residence homes and various tasks.

NS: How can students get involved?

DM: They should register at [email protected]. Students can sign up with a group of friends or individually.

NS: What have past years been like?

DM: As far as how much we have grown, this is becoming well known. Our numbers have grown and students definitely look forward to it. More projects are depending on our help.

NS: What is your favorite NIU Cares Day memory?

DM: As a staff member, it would be seeing the students arrive at the a.m. shift. They come at 7:30 a.m. and it’s exciting to see the students have the energy to give back to the community.

NS: Are there any new partners that NIU will be teaming up with?

DM: So far we just opened up registration for partners and volunteers. I’m not quite sure, although I can tell you that the DeKalb Community Gardens has reached out to us. They will need a lot of volunteers.

NS: Are there many volunteers?

DM: Yes. Including faculty and staff, we have 2,000 each year.

NS: Is being a part of NIU Cares Day a rewarding experience? Explain.

DM: Definitely rewarding. It’s great to see students willing to volunteer for the community. It takes a lot to plan. It’s great to see everything come together.

NS: What are the usual volunteer activities at NIU Cares Day?

DM: There is planting, visiting the elderly, shelters, TAILS. There is also the Feed ’em Soup Community Project where volunteers sort clothes, paint and patch things up in old DeKalb schools. It just depends on the agency and what their leads are.

NS: Why has NIU decided to start NIU Cares Day?

DM: I can only speak from what I think. It has a lot to do with students and the university wanting to give back to their community.