Each year, SLU hosts two campus-wide service events, Make A Difference Day in the fall and Showers of Service in the spring. With the help of co-sponsor Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity on campus, both events bring the SLU community of students and staff and St. Louis natives together to participate in a day of service around the St. Louis area. Whether it be gardening work, helping register citizens to vote, or assisting non-for-profits in the office, there are plenty of sites in the community who are trying to make a difference for the people within the St. Louis area and could use the extra help.
This past weekend, I had the privilege of participating in Showers of Service with a group from HerCampus at SLU, and it was quite the experience. I have previously volunteered for these days of service in the past, but this particular service day struck me differently. This year, our group, along with two other groups from the SLU community, volunteered at Gateway Garlic Urban Farm, an urban farm in South St. Louis promoting organic agriculture and sustainable farming. At the farm, we helped with various tasks like transferring compost to areas for future planting and gathering mulch into a massive mound to plant mushrooms. I don’t have a green thumb, but who would have known you could grow mushrooms from a pile of mulch? And you don’t necessarily need to be in a rural setting with lots of greenery to grow crops, but you can do it in the inner city? I would have never learned this information without this experience, and knowing I helped contribute to a cause that grows natural produce to be donated or sold, and practices sustainability within the community was eye-opening. The term volunteering is not just limited to saving lives, but it can also apply to how we can help our community and environment and promote sound ideals. It also comes with its added perks like meeting new friends, learning new concepts, and getting in touch with your local community and feeling a part of something more.
If you’re not the type to continuously do service throughout the year, I would recommend participating in just one of these service days at least once during your time at SLU. I know some of us (myself included) initially take part in these events because we need to fulfill a service requirement or something along those lines, but let me tell you the feeling and experience you get afterward will make you forget why you chose to participate initially. By participating in Showers of Service, I was able to feel part of not just the SLU community, but the St. Louis community as a whole. Not only was I was able to connect with peers outside my inner circle, but I learned so much from my experience at the urban farm and what it can provide for the people of St. Louis. I look forward to seeing how Gateway Garlic Urban Farm will grow and impact the community over the years to come.