Service day aids local charity

mcdonalds:Students gardened at the Ronald McDonald House for the first Sacramento State Serves day on Saturday. :Matt Erickson - State Hornet

mcdonalds:Students gardened at the Ronald McDonald House for the first Sacramento State Serves day on Saturday. :Matt Erickson – State Hornet

Lauren Greenwood

Sacramento State students, faculty and staff volunteered Saturday to do ground work at the Ronald McDonald House, as part of a new program called Sac State Serves.

Misty Sisneros, office manager of the Community Engagement Center, said a number of students, faculty and staff wanted to participate in the community. Other than the Alternative Breaks program offered every winter and spring, Sac State didn’t have a community service program, until now.

“Sac State Serves is designed to make volunteering convenient and accessible to the whole campus with local, single-day service projects throughout the year,” said Sisneros, who started developing the program in December.

Sisneros said she chose to work with the Ronald McDonald House, a nonprofit organization that houses families with sick children, because it could accommodate large groups of volunteers and she thought it was “a great opportunity to collaborate.”

Sixteen Sac State students, faculty, staff and alumni worked from morning until noon, pruning and picking up weeds and trimming bushes around the facility.

Maryann Williams, senior public relations major, said she volunteered because community service, particularly at the Ronald McDonald House, is important to her.

When she was in ninth grade, her sister had a major back surgery. While her sister underwent tests and therapy, the Ronald McDonald House provided her mother with a place to stay, Williams said.

“When I visited my sister, my mom showed me the Ronald McDonald House. Even though I wasn’t sick, I, as well as the other siblings, got to pick a stuffed animal, toy or DVD, all of which were donated,” Williams said. “It was just a little gesture of support from the House and it was very thoughtful.”

Williams said she hopes to work for a nonprofit organization when she graduates.

“In our own communities, it’s important to give back and keep it a nice place to keep living,” Williams said. Sac State alumna Jessa Sanchez said her favorite part of the program is seeing the people who volunteer.

“It makes me feel good to see that people come and take time out of their day to do something to help out an organization,” Sanchez said. Stacy Hodge, director of community relations, said the House serves nearly 900 families a year. For every family it serves, two are turned down.

The House has about 1,500 active volunteers every year. Volunteers do various tasks for the House, such as doing grounds work.

Although this is the first time Sac State Serves has volunteered at the House, Sac State students have been volunteering since it opened in 1998.

Lois Polaschek, house manager of the House, said members of the Sac State Accounting Society volunteered to provide security during the House’s first holiday party in December 1998.

“I was talking to (the society) and they did not know that their group had been volunteering since we opened,” Polaschek said. “In different ways, Sac State has helped out all along.”

Linda Lau, junior nursing major, said she’ll definitely volunteer again.

“I thought this would be a good way to give back. A lot of the patients and their families stay here,” Lau said. “It was worth volunteering.”

Sac State Serves will take part in a trash cleanup from 9 a.m. to noon on April 17, as part of Sacramento’s Creek Week 2010. For more information, contact Misty Sisneros at [email protected] or call (916) 278-4610.

Lauren Greenwood can be reached at [email protected].