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20,000 hours and counting: students volunteer for inaugural gift

Day of Service scheduled for Saturday, March 25

Students have logged close to 20,000 hours of community service, performed in Boston and at sites around the country, for President Brown's inauguration. Photo by Vernon Doucette

The 200-plus students participating in Saturday’s Day of Service have a message for Boston University’s new president: You’re a Good Man, Bobby Brown.

“He’s given us permission to use the name Bobby for one day,” says Jon Marker (CAS’07), president of the Student Union, one of the event’s organizers and one of the creators of the slogan, which is printed on the volunteers’ T-shirts. “He doesn’t want it to be a regular presidential thing.”

Just six weeks after the Student Union announced its plan of giving Brown a log of the University’s community service in honor of his inauguration, the goal of 17,000 hours — one for each undergraduate student — has already been exceeded. Marker expects to hit 20,000 hours by the end of the week and says that nearly 1,000 new hours are added to the log on the Union’s Web site every day. “Our pie-in-the-sky goal is 50,000 hours,” he says.

The Day of Service on Saturday, which will send students to sites around the city, is expected to add at least 1,000 more. Volunteers will work with several local organizations — including the Esplanade Association, the Greater Boston Food Bank, and Mass Equality — cleaning up trash, sorting food, or painting buildings. They’ll meet at BU Central at the end of the day to record their hours. At the inauguration on April 27, students will present Brown with a book of photos and stories describing the volunteer work they performed.

“It’s just amazing, the way we affect our community,” Marker says. “I’ve gotten such obscure instances of community service, I have to assume the word is getting out and people are choosing to do this.”

While many students have performed hundreds of hours of service through BU’s Community Service Center, others have found ways to participate on their own. Several faith-based groups, among them Habitat for Humanity, sponsored service trips around the country during spring break. Fraternities and sororities have become involved by organizing service days for their individual chapters. And at least one student, Marker says, has logged the hours she spends volunteering at the Franklin Park Zoo.

The Union will stop logging hours on April 9, but organizers expect to hear from several thousand more students, faculty, and staff before then. At least two major events — the Dance Marathon and the Hillel Day of Service — are scheduled to take place before the drive for service ends.

Students interested in participating on Saturday can contact the Student Union at union@bu.edu or sign up on Friday in the GSU Link between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.