Approximately 400 Cornell students volunteered in Ithaca and its surrounding towns this weekend, participating in Into the Streets — an annual service event, according to Into the Streets Co-President Raquel Zerbib ’17.
A student-organized event, Into the Streets paired Cornellians with 23 local agencies this year to volunteer for causes from food security to sustainability, Zerbib said.
The co-president said the event was intended to alter student perception of the Ithaca community and encourage student engagement in their community.
“The goal is to connect students with an organization outside of Cornell so that if they want, they can continue volunteering there, and it’s not as intimidating to go out into the local Ithaca community,” she said. “Sometimes you get stuck at Cornell, because there’s just so much to do, but there’s also a lot to do outside of Cornell.”
Zerbib noted that nine service projects were cancelled due to the rain, and in the end 25 projects occurred. Many Into the Street’s projects involved outdoor work, such as cleaning and raking.
“We had a lot of issues because of the rain, unfortunately,” Zerbib said. “[Saturday] was not the best of days, and we had a handful of outside projects, since many agencies would prefer to use their limited resources for programming and community outreach rather than maintenance.”
Despite the poor weather, Zerbib said many events were successfully completed, adding that “it was great to see students be willing to go out and volunteer regardless of the weather.”
Zerbib said Into the Streets “scaled back” in 2015, only allowing 500 people to participate, while in past years more than 1,000 people participated. She said the group did this in order to “[promote] a lifetime of service rather than a one time volunteer event.”
“We realized there was some disconnect between the work students were performing during Into the Streets and their understanding of the agency’s mission,” Zerbib said.
Zerbid said Into the Streets plans to provide more information about organizations ahead of time and create a newsletter after the event, so students can continue volunteering.
Katherine Ring ’18, a student volunteer, said she and a team of volunteers from Alpha Phi Omega — a national service fraternity — cleaned a kitchen at Pennsylvania Avenue Methodist Church in Pine City, N.Y. that hosts a food pantry for 400 families twice a month.
“It really gave me a greater appreciation for the people who put their time and effort into this every weekend, because it is a huge operation,” she said. “I was just really happy that behind the scenes, we were able to make a difference.”
Ring said she worked for four hours with a group of volunteers who cleaned a cupboard, removed all dining ware and washed and dried kitchen items.
“It was really cool because I didn’t know everyone in the group, and we got the chance to get to know each other doing dishes and churning it all out as a team,” she said.
Brady Bunkelman ’19, who also volunteered at the food pantry in Pine City and participated in Into the Streets last year, said he enjoyed meeting the other volunteers.
“It’s very rewarding to get away from campus and just do a whole day of service, basically, where you’re helping out, and you know you’re making an impact in the community,” he said.
Bunkelman suggested Into the Streets occur once a semester instead of just once a year.
“There are tons of organizations out there that need more volunteers,” he said. “One day for six hours each semester is not a lot to ask. The more service we do, the better.”