College students use spring break to give back

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Barton College and East Carolina University students devoted their spring break to community service projects working alongside AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America members.

College students have spent the week serving the Wilson community in multiple capacities including participating in various cleanups, serving meals at the Community Soup Kitchen and building raised garden beds on Singletary Street. Volunteers also helped organize and price items at the Habitat Restore.

VISTA members held a roundtable discussion for college volunteers where they discussed what poverty looks like on a national and local level. College volunteers got a chance to network with nonprofits and community leaders, gaining insight on several efforts happening in Wilson aimed to alleviate poverty.

Wilson’s AmeriCorps VISTAs spearheaded this week’s efforts in giving back and making a difference in Wilson.

“We thought this would be a great opportunity to plan the event and bring volunteers into Wilson,” said Tatiana Cleveland, who supervises AmeriCorps VISTA members here through the United Way of Wilson County. “It’s a mutually beneficial experience. The student volunteers get exposure to nonprofits. They also get to see a different side of Wilson and all the good things happing in Wilson.”


On Thursday, volunteers ended their service project week with an Olympic-themed grand finale event at the Save-A-Youth community center on Walnut Street.

Dozens of children took part in the fun-filled afternoon, which included potato-sack and three-legged races as well as wheelbarrow relays and tug-of-war. And they couldn’t stop smiling as they competed against each other.

Cleveland said the event was a great way to make a positive impact on all the students at once. And because Wilson County Schools had an early release day Thursday, officials said the event was perfectly timed.

“It lined up great,” Cleveland said. “Save-A-Youth students get to interact with college-age students and get a little bit of mentorship.”

VISTA volunteer Giselle Dominguez, whose role here is working with the Wilson Family YMCA on programs including Save-A-Youth, Girls on the Run and STRIDE, said it’s a collaborative effort. She said the Save-A-Youth Olympics on Thursday was the best way to reach as many kids as possible.

“This is good for them because it gives them a day to meet college students that care about the community and want to make a difference,” Dominguez said. “They can see what we do.”