GSDM community gives back virtually during 2021 Global Days of Service  

From card-writing campaigns to collecting donations, members of the Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine (GSDM) found creative ways to participate in this year’s Global Days of Service despite the limitations created by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In total, 69 individuals from Boston University Medical Campus contributed approximately 193 hours of service during Global Days of Service by participating in 18 independent and/or Global Days of Service-sponsored activities during the month of April.

Global Days of Service is a university-wide month of community service during which alumni, students, residents, faculty, staff, and their family and friends are encouraged to give back to their local, national, and international communities. Due to  the COVID-19 pandemic, the University did not offer any in-person activities this year. Instead, all volunteer opportunities available were virtual, which was a new concept, according to Kathy Lituri, oral health promotion director in the Department of Health Policy & Health Services Research.

“In years past we never did remote,” Lituri said. “We never thought about doing remote, [because] there was no need to.” 

Lituri compiled a list of virtual service opportunities, combining opportunities that she regularly offers to students with activities offered by the Boston University Alumni Association. One challenge, Lituri said, was the fact that many opportunities required a financial contribution.

“When people did things in person, they’re giving their time—maybe gas or mileage, but with all of the remote things, none of them are free,” Lituri said. “The least expensive thing I found was card-writing….I try to acknowledge that everything we’re asking [people] to do is a donation of a product or money.” 

Still, the GSDM community came out in force to give back to the community. Three student organizations—American Student Dental Association, Hispanic Student Dental Association, and the American Association of Public Health Dentistry— held card-writing campaigns. Students and their families penned more than 500 cards for Melmark New England, Cards for Hospitalized Kids, Love for our Elders and the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services. Some members of the GSDM community collected donations for the Salvation Army and Catie’s Closet, while others donated blood and put together hygiene kits for Rosie’s Place. 

While students at GSDM have the opportunity to volunteer throughout the year, Lituri said that Global Days of Service spans across the community  as faculty, staff, alumni, and family and friends are all encouraged to participate. 

“This is a way to really rally faculty and staff….it’s a way to make it more collective,” Lituri said.