Rollins College freshmen serve Central Florida through SPARC Day

Rollins College students lent a helping hand at 25 locations across Central Florida.

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  • | 11:23 a.m. September 8, 2017
Cynthia Whitty, Amy Roher and Mya Hurwitz served at Killarney Elementary School on SPARC Day.
Cynthia Whitty, Amy Roher and Mya Hurwitz served at Killarney Elementary School on SPARC Day.
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Rollins College continued a tradition of community service on Saturday, Aug. 26 as it celebrated the 12th anniversary of SPARC Day of Community — during which more than 500 members of the freshman class volunteered and served Central Florida.

The Service, Passion, Action, Rollins College Day included stops at 25 different locations where students served the community, including the Wells Built Museum, where volunteers organized and categorized museum artifacts and did general cleaning; Mustard Seed, where they broke down mattresses and organized clothing and furniture; and Killarney Elementary, where Rollins students painted a mural, cleaned and gardened.

Since SPARC Day’s inception in 2006, more than 7,000 students, faculty, and staff have contributed nearly 30,000 hours of community service.

“It sparks this type of commitment all throughout the year, that’s why it’s called SPARC Day,” Communications Manager Jo Marie Hebeler said. “We want it to spark a lifelong commitment to service.”

Being a global citizen means far more than sitting in a classroom, and SPARC Day demonstrates that, Rollins College President Grant Cornwell said.

“These students are going to be studying at Rollins for four years, and we want them to understand that they’re part of a social, cultural, economic ecosystem,” Cornwell said. “We don’t want them just to parachute in and study their subjects, we want them to be immersed in the local issues.

“We want them to be learning not just by studying, but learning through experience,” he said. “Our mission is to educate students for global citizenship and responsible leadership — you have to do that by actually rolling up your sleeves and doing something, not just studying it academically.”

Rollins College helped Killarney Elementary in a number of areas. Students put a fresh coat of paint on classroom doors, painted a kindness tree mural where children can post their acts of kindness, and painted poles along the parent pickup loop so children know where to line up.

Volunteers also weeded a garden area and gave it new soil, making way for a new fall planting this school year. That garden serves as an education tool for the children while providing food for 100 homeless students, Killarney Elementary School Principal Kelly Steinke said.

“We were just delighted when we were selected to be one of the recipients of all of the volunteers,” Steinke said. “I’m so glad that Rollins College is doing this. It’s a great opportunity for those students. We certainly appreciate it here at Killarney.”

Rollins students such as Mya Hurwitz took pride in giving back to the community, and were thankful that SPARC Day gave them something productive to do on a Saturday morning.

“Especially coming to Rollins, it’s nice to be able to explore out into the Orlando community and help the kids that really need it, other than just sitting in our dorm rooms doing things that wouldn’t be as productive as this,” Hurwitz said.  “We’re all freshman, so it’s really a great way for all of us to meet and bond. I think we all have the same mindset: we’re all new, we all want to help and this is a way to all come together.”


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