Panther Service Day to bring students together 


Submitted Photo

The Ashmore Fire Department offered Eastern students opportunities for service work last year.

Kalyn Hayslett, Verge Editor

Crystal Brown, civic engagement and volunteerism assistant director, and Interim Director Beth Gillespie both cheered as a group of 19 students registered to volunteer for the 14th annual Panther Service Day.  

Students will have a chance to help the Charleston city by volunteering at 11 different sites on Saturday. 

The opening ceremony will take place in Blair Hall’s lawn at 11:30 a.m. where there will be speeches, a dance presentation and check-in tables.

The first 100 students to check-in will receive free Panther Service Day T-shirts.

Gillespie said this year’s theme ‘Let’s be legendary together,’ serves as a message of hope for all of the participants.

“The phrase ‘let’s be legendary together’ really stuck out to us this year especially now,” Gillespie said. “We have faith that we are going to see bright days ahead and EIU is not going anywhere so let’s be legendary together right here, right now.”

Crystal Brown said that their goal was to provide a wide range of volunteer sites so there would be a place that interests everyone.

“It is important as we craft that list to provide that wide variety of options whether it’s working for youth agencies or nature preserves,” Brown said. “We want students to participate in things that they are interested in and have a passion for.” 

The sites include Standing Stone, First Fruits Farm, trails around Lake Charleston, City of Ashmore, Douglas Heart Nature Preserve, Fit 2 Serve, Lifespan Center, HOPE and HOPE children center, Mark Twain Elementary and Standing Stone Capenter’s Table.

Brown said that several sites have become a part of Panther Service Day tradition while there are new sites added this year. 

“In addition to maintaining those old relationships its building those new relationships with community partners and seeing if there are new opportunities to help our community but also to engage our students,” Brown said. 

The two new sites offered this year are Fit 2 Serve and having students work on the trails surrounding Lake Charleston. 

HOPE domestic violence shelter and Standing Stone community center were offered before but this year students can volunteer in HOPE children center and Standing Stone’s new carpenter’s table. 

Volunteers will be provided transportation as well as a free bagged lunch that the students can take to the various locations.  

The lunches are donated by Eastern’s Alumni Office, which has been a consistent service the office provides for the student volunteers.  

Communicating with the site managers, finding new sites, providing transportation for students and encouraging students to volunteer are all major aspects of the planning process.  

The Civic Engagement and Volunteerism staff, Eastern Alumni Services and student government are the main orgainzers for the service day.  

All of these organizations work together as a team to make sure everything is completed, Brown said.

“Our job is to set the stage so our students can show up, work hard, change lives and go home,” Gillespie said. “We will feel good knowing that this happens.”

Gillespie said even though the tasks may seem simple, they all represent a deeper meaning of establishing long lasting relationships.

“The number thing that our community leaders talk so highly of is the support, work ethic, attitude and the impact that our student body has on their organization,” Gillespie said.

Kalyn Hayslett can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]