November 4, 2013

Into the Streets Sees Record Number of Cornell Volunteers

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Registering more than 1,300 students, Into the Streets — an annual event dedicated to volunteerism in the Ithaca community — saw the largest turnout of its 22-year history in October.

Into the Streets is a chance for Cornell students to help change the stereotype of college students only caring about partying and drinking, Leslyn McBean, deputy director of the Greater Ithaca Activities Center, said at the event’s launch.

Students from across the University, including members of the Greek community, casts from Risley Theater productions and freshman dorms, headed to downtown Ithaca on Oct. 25 and 26 to work on projects together. They joined fellow Into the Streets volunteers to help dozens of agencies, including the Downtown Ithaca Alliance, East Ithaca Preschool, the Salvation Army and the Cancer Resource Center.

Students did everything from helping set up holiday decorations and to making Halloween crafts for residents at the Beechtree Care Center to weeding gardens at the Salvation Army, according to Julie Gold ’14, president of Into the Streets. They also helped serve food and sell tickets for Oktoberfest, an annual event that celebrates German heritage.

“It was absolutely amazing,” Franklin Yang ’17 said. “I would definitely do it again.”

Gold said she thinks the event serves to remind students of how important it is to give back to the Ithaca community, even if it means just volunteering for a day. “It is remarkable how much a four-hour commitment for students can change a community,” Gold said. “Into the Streets is about more than just volunteering; it’s about seeing all of the parts of Ithaca outside the Cornell bubble.”

Alexa D’Ambra ’14, co-president of the Into the Streets, echoed Gold’s sentiments, saying Into the Streets emphasizes the importance of forming relationships with residents in the Ithaca area.

D’Ambra added that she hopes Into the Streets will continue to evolve as more volunteers from Cornell come out to give back to the community. In future years, she said, she hopes there may even be more occasions for the event since there are a limited number of volunteers the agencies can accommodate at a time.

“We would love to expand and keep growing in numbers,” D’Ambra said.