More than 1,000 students volunteer for Service First

Students in the Class of 2011, arriving on campus today, will be busy buying last-minute notebooks, pens, highlighters and maybe a few paint brushes.

Paint brushes?

More than 1,000 newly arrived freshmen will need those brushes, and more, as they volunteer their time Sept. 1 to paint, landscape, clean and beautify 13 area public schools to make the school year more enjoyable for students and their teachers.

It’s all part of the annual Service First, an initiative that introduces first-year University students to community service in the St. Louis area.

Service First sends approximately 90 students to each of the chosen schools, and all projects are developed by principals and their staffs. Projects include painting indoor and outdoor murals, painting activities and maps on the playground, creating bulletin boards and preparing classrooms.

“Service First continues to be a very popular event for our new students,” said Stephanie Kurtzman, director of the Community Service Office and associate director of the Richard A. Gephardt Institute for Public Service. “It’s a fun day that allows students to become friends with other freshmen, to get a better sense of the St. Louis community and to make the first steps in what we hope will be a lasting commitment to service during their stay at Washington University.”

After a day of work, students will participate in a Community Service Fair and barbecue featuring more than 30 student-run organizations that focus on community service. It allows students to learn more about opportunities in which to get involved during their time at college.

Service First is co-sponsored this year by The Women’s Society of Washington University, Student Union and Congress of the South 40, among others.

Service First began in 1999 with about 600 student volunteers helping to clean and beautify scenic trails. It has grown and flourished every year and now typically involves more than 1,000 students, staff and faculty volunteers.

Schools to be visited this year are Eskridge Elementary in the Wellston School District; Barbara C. Jordan Elementary in the University City School District; and Baden, Herzog, Long, Mann, Mullanphy, Oak Hill, Shaw and Wallbridge elementary schools and Carr Lane, Long and Stowe middle schools in the St. Louis School District.

For more information, call Kurtzman at 935-5066.