NIU Cares Day is volunteer opportunity for students, faculty, staff


Mike Greene | Northern Star Freshman sociology major and member of Omega Delta Danny Salazar helps paint the walls of First Church of Nazarene one afternoon as part of a past NIU Cares Day. Salazar and other members of Omega Delta started the day off washing windows at Lincoln Elementary and continued serving the community by painting and landscaping at the church.

By Danny Ciamprone

Everyone says they care; now NIU is proving it.

On Saturday, NIU will hold its fifth annual NIU Cares Day, which is a campus-wide day of community service. The goal is to bring students, faculty and staff together to complete service projects in the county to thank community agencies for their support of NIU.

Becky Harlow, assistant director for Huskie Family Connections and Volunteerism, said the reason the event has been so successful in the past is because of the growing interest in the event.

“The majority is the students,” Harlow said. “Their interest in coming out to volunteer…has really made the event successful.”

Harlow said when the first event was held, 800 students participated. This year the number has climbed to 1,800.

“Students can register in teams so it’s like a social event,” Harlow said. “The community knows when it’s coming and always gets excited.”

Harlow said the event has always captivated the community because it is a chance for volunteer-run organizations to get projects done, which they normally would not have the money for. Projects include painting, cleaning, resurfacing playgrounds and landscape.

“We get a lot of nice emails after the event, and some people even do a letter to the editor acknowledging how great it was to see all the students donating their time,” Harlow said.

The DeKalb Park District is just one of a number of organizations on the list of places services will be provided.

“We participated in it for many years, and we’re excited to have it again,” said Cindy Capek, executive director of the DeKalb Park District. “It’s a really positive thing for the community.”

Capek said the activities will include adding mulch to playgrounds, painting and cleaning up the area.

“The beauty of it is this comes right after the snow melts,” Capek said. “It’s amazing what mother nature uncovers with so much trash needing to be cleaned up, so it’s really helpful.”

Capek stressed how thankful she was to NIU for including the park district in the day’s events. She said by seeing others help the community it creates a culture and teaches people if trash is thrown on the ground, someone else will have to pick it up.

Freshman art major Mackenzie Maeder said she has volunteered in the past and looks forward to doing it again around DeKalb.

“I worked with the St. Mary’s September Fest,” Maeder said. “I’ve also worked with the St. Mary’s Church and doing some stuff for Girl Scouts. I haven’t had the chance yet this semester to volunteer around DeKalb, but I will try to.”

Registration is closed for this year’s NIU Cares Day, but Harlow said next year’s event will take place on April 14.