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‘Go out and get involved’

Photo by Christopher Huang.

Fifty new students kicked off their Northeastern University careers a week early by volunteering with community organizations and learning about poverty, hunger and homelessness through nuSERVES.

Now in its fourth year, the University’s annual program engages freshman and transfer students in service projects that allow them to explore Boston’s neighborhoods, meet classmates and build new friendships and develop a strengthened sense of community engagement. 

They participate in workshops that introduce them to a range of community issues, such as education, affordable housing and the environment, and take walking tours to develop a strong understanding of the culture and histories of Boston’s diverse neighborhoods.

Over a two-day span, students volunteered with 11 community organizations in neighborhoods such as Roxbury, South Boston and Jamaica Plain.

Last Thursday, one group of students sorted donated food at Greater Boston Food Bank, which relies on volunteers to distribute the goods to 550 agencies in nine counties in Eastern Massachusetts. Music boomed while volunteer coordinators led call-and-response songs and cheers.

“Since we walked to the Food Bank from campus, we got this very real experience of the neighborhood that we might not get if we took the train or a bus,” said team leader Megan Harless. “A big part of nuSERVES is learning about the issues in Boston and there’s no better way to do that than to go out and get involved.”

As part of the program, student volunteers discussed homelessness and economic development with leaders of two Roxbury-based community organizations: the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative and Horizons for Homeless Children.

“I definitely want to do what I can to help the community while I’m here in Boston,” said Katie Woolford, a pharmacy major from Monroe, N.Y. “This program gave me the opportunity to see all the different ways I can get involved to make Boston a better place for everyone.”

Alexa Moskowitz agreed. “I’m not from Boston, so this is a way to see parts of the city I wouldn’t otherwise know about,” said the undeclared freshman from Old Saybrook, Conn. “It encourages you to do more for this community once the school year starts and gives you a lot of empathy and understanding toward issues like hunger and homelessness that most students might not even think about.”