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Student volunteers to make a difference on Mass Impact Day

  • University of Massachusetts Amherst junior Derek Kornhiser, left, and senior Matteen Hakim, center, pull weeds and plant perennials at The Overlook at Northampton nursing home and retirement community Saturday morning while Overlook residents Shirley St. John, right, and Dot Miller, far right, watch. The Overlook was one of many sites where UMass students and faculty volunteered as part of a past Mass Impact Day. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO



Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 10, 2018

AMHERST — More than a dozen places in the region, including elementary schools in Hadley and Pelham, Look Park in Northampton and conservation areas in Amherst and Belchertown, will benefit from community service by hundreds of University of Massachusetts students, faculty and staff Saturday.

The seventh annual Mass Impact Day, which runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., will have student volunteers from at least 20 organizations fanning out to do various activities.

Among the projects is the second annual cleanup of Markert’s Pond and its surroundings in the Orchard Valley section of Amherst.

Led by Brad Bordewieck, the land manager and watershed forester for the town of Amherst, the cleanup will run from 8:30 a.m. to noon and is expected to include clearing the existing trail, spreading woodchips and cutting brush, picking up litter and stabilizing rocks on the dam.

A community potluck at 1 p.m. on the south side of Markert’s Pond concludes that project.

Enku Gelaye, vice chancellor for student affairs and campus life, said in a statement that the university sets aside one day each fall to have students connect with the larger community and build relationships with nonprofit organizations.

“Working closely with our local organizations instills a sense of community pride in our students, and contributes to their appreciation of the importance of civic engagement,” Gelaye said.

Other volunteer work will include landscaping the exterior of the Hadley Elementary School and removing overgrowth from the preschool courtyard at Pelham Elementary School, clearing the overgrown mini-golf course and re-potting plant material at Look Park, food sorting at the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts in Hatfield, clean up and trail maintenance at Lake Wallace in Belchertown in conjunction with the Connecticut River Conservancy’s Source-to-Sea cleanup, farm-related work at Sunset Farm in Amherst and Gardening the Community in Springfield, raking leaves and enhancing the grounds at the Amherst Historical Society, dusting shelves and books at the Jones Library in Amherst, organizing at the Craig’s Place homeless shelter in advance of the shelter season, and cleaning medical walkers for residents at Rockridge Retirement Home in Northampton.

Scott Bocchio, the university’s leadership and service development advisor who coordinates Mass Impact Day, said there will be additional street cleanups, with one on campus organized by Tobacco Free Campus, and the others in the areas of Shumway Street, Fearing Street and Lincoln Avenue in Amherst.

Mass Impact Day is sponsored by the Office of Student Activities and Involvement, a division of Student Affairs and Campus Life at UMass Amherst.

 Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.