Campus-wide day of service gets students engaged with the Fort Worth community


Student volunteers make sandwiches for a local homeless shelter as part of TCU Day of Service 2021. (Courtesy of Cata Arias)

By Sarah Walter, Staff Writer

TCU students will volunteer with over 30 community organizations as part of TCU’s annual Day of Service on Saturday.

The day will kick off in the morning with an opening ceremony featuring head basketball coach Jamie Dixon before participants head to on and off-campus volunteer sites.

Student organizers are hoping this year’s event will be the largest yet.

Day of Service Executive Director Serena Nguyen said approximately 750 students volunteered last year. This year, 1,500 volunteer slots are available.

“Day of Service highlights that global community and ethical citizenship aspect and allows TCU to really practice that value, so we wanted to make sure that more students had the opportunity to do so and to interact with the community, especially seeing how much Fort Worth has given to us by putting resources into TCU,” said Nguyen, a senior supply chain management major.

Socially-distanced students paint canvases during the 2020 TCU Day of Service. (TCU School of Journalism)

Students can choose from more than 20 off-campus volunteer sites including elementary schools, local parks, festivals, Boys & Girls Clubs, food banks and community farms.

Director of Student Engagement Alia Hannon said half of this year’s sites are new to Day of Service.

“Because we got different sites that we’ve never served before, which is amazing, with the help of all the TCU students, we’re able to go and make the biggest impact that we can on the community,” Hannon said.

Free transportation is provided to and from the sites. Participants will volunteer for five to six hours before being bussed back to TCU.

Students can also participate in Day of Service without leaving TCU’s campus. On-campus activities include making blankets, sandwiches or hygiene bags or volunteering with children.

The largest on-site activity will be a reading festival for local elementary school students and their parents. Volunteers will be paired with a child and spend the day exploring the festival with them.

Olivia Thompson, a senior speech pathology major and director of on-site projects, said having on-campus options allows all students to get involved, no matter their comfort level.

“A lot of people seem to be more comfortable with going to an on-campus project, so it gives students the opportunity to choose and keeps it open if they don’t want to go off campus,” Thompson said. “Also, then you can remember it as being part of your experience here as a TCU student.”

TCU students volunteer with Reading Frogs for the 2015 Day of Service. (TCU 360 Archive)

The event is planned by Bryan Partika, the coordinator of leadership and experiential learning, and an executive board of six students.

Their planning process began in July with outreach to community partners. In August, Partika and the executive board selected service leaders for each volunteer site and coordinated the logistics of the event.

The purpose of TCU Day of Service is twofold: strengthen TCU’s relationship with the Fort Worth community and connect students to service opportunities in the area.

“We wanted to make sure that we were able to continue fostering TCU’s relationships and building that trust and strength between Fort Worth communities, especially vulnerable communities and nonprofit organizations, as well as still making it a fun day and an opportunity for students to get engaged,” Nguyen said.

Partika said hosting a day of service also allows students to live out the TCU mission statement.

“To be an ethical leader, you have to have a holistic view of what’s going on in your community,” Partika said. “We want students at TCU while they’re here and after they graduate to be able to become responsible citizens in their community and learn about different aspects and different pockets of the community that they otherwise wouldn’t have known about.”

Interested students can register on TCU Engage.