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Students looking at the millions of dollars already raised for the Campaign for Boston University may feel they have little to contribute to such a monumental endeavor. But they can now play a vital role in the University’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign, whose goal is to support students and faculty, fund research, maintain and improve facilities, and support special programs.

The BU student body has pledged to complete one million hours of community service as their donation to the campaign. The announcement was made at the Celebration of BU, the public kickoff of the campaign, on September 22, 2012. “What makes us great as a campus is our altruistic nature,” says Dexter McCoy (COM’14), former Student Government president. “We love having Boston as our campus. By giving back to the community, we will make it clear that we appreciate what we get from the University. We want to give a lot back, and we want to give service.”

Included in the tally will be hours of service dating from fall 2011 through the campaign’s conclusion in 2017. (The 2011 hours are included to reflect the campaign’s unofficial “quiet” period, which began about two and a half years ago.) As of early January 2013, nearly 304,000 hours had already been donated. McCoy says that part of the inspiration for the idea came from a student initiative commemorating the inauguration of President Robert A. Brown in 2006. Jonathan Marker (CAS’07), then Student Union president, pledged one hour of community service for each undergraduate student—17,000 hours in total—as a gift to Brown, a goal that was exceeded by several thousand hours.

This time, the same emphasis is being placed on getting 100 percent participation from students, McCoy says, adding that it isn’t necessary for a student to volunteer with a group to be counted. Anyone who spends time working with an outside nonprofit, tutoring, or helping a frail neighbor can contribute their hours.