BISMARCK, ND — It’s amazing what hundreds of helping hands can do in a day’s time. The number of tasks that have been tackled by the University of Mary Day of Service volunteers since it began three years ago are staggering and run the gamut: shoveling tons of debris at an empty school in Mandan; database entry at a grade school, installing fence at a national park; zoo cleanup; apple picking for a world apple bobbing record; tree wrapping to protect from winter critters; cleaned ditches from campus to the capitol; ecumenical cleanup at Trinity Lutheran and prepared meals for those underserved, to name just a handful. There isn’t much they haven’t done or can’t do.

University of Mary’s student-organized and -run Day of Service has become the state’s largest one-day volunteer event. And this year looks to be just as exciting and big with around 1,000 students, faculty, staff and some Benedictine Sisters swarming the streets, businesses and organizations of the Bismarck-Mandan community. Also taking part in this event from afar are students at Mary’s campuses in Fargo, Billings and Rome, Italy.

“The goal of the Day of Service is not just to serve one day and go back to our hectic schedules but rather to be a kickoff to a year and a lifetime of service,” said Becky Mastel, Day of Service coordinator and student government senator at the University of Mary. “This is an opportunity to build connections with organizations that are in need of volunteers throughout the year. My hope as the Day of Service coordinator is that this one day encourages students to stay involved with these organizations throughout the year to volunteer their time and talents. As a student of the University of Mary I believe the day is a prime example of what we are taught here at the university and that is to give of oneself. This life is not about us but rather serving those around us. One’s service does not have to be extraordinary in order to make a huge impact in the world. One day will give many people countless blessings.”

The event begins Wednesday, Oct. 11 with a prayer service and rally at 8 a.m. in the McDowell Activity Center (MAC) before buses load up at 9:15 a.m. As part of the new Vision 2030 Campaign, University of Mary’s student body recommitted itself to becoming servant leaders of moral courage, providing a culture grounded in service, fostering a great capacity to pour themselves out in loving service to others. The new, campus wide Day of Service campaign that began in 2014 answers that pledge.

Serving others is a big part of the University of Mary’s mission since being founded in 1959 by the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery. Mary’s students take part in hundreds of service projects every year—from helping with homeless shelters in North Dakota to providing medical assistance in Guatemala and Peru.

With University of Mary classes cancelled for this annual event, students, faculty and staff will spread out to around 50 service projects ranging from helping build a shed and fence and groom animals at Horses Inspiring Peoples Potential (HIPP), serving breakfast at Ministry on the Margins, cleaning and grounds keeping at many nursing and assisted living facilities, and preparing the ski trails for winter at Huff Hills, to name just a few.

Day of Service Schedule

8 a.m. – 9 a.m. McDowell Activity Center (MAC) Prayer service, convocation and University of Mary Vocal Jazz with keynote speaker Jena Gullo, United Way — Volunteers Receive T-Shirts

9:15 – 9:30 a.m. (Outside MAC) Buses load for morning service projects

9:30 a.m. (Outside MAC) Buses depart

10 – Noon Morning service projects begin

11 a.m. – 1 p.m. (Outside of MAC) Lunch Provided by Dakota Community Bank

12:15 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. (Outside MAC) Buses Load for afternoon projects

12:30 p.m. (Outside MAC) Buses depart

1–3 p.m. Afternoon service projects begin

4:30 p.m. (Our Lady of the Annunciation Chapel) All University Liturgy

5:30 – 6:45 p.m. (Crow’s Nest) Coronation Meal

7 p.m. (Founders Hall) Day of Service and Coronation Celebration