Pacific gives back to Stockton community during inaugural volunteer event
Pacific has started a new tradition: kicking off the school year by giving back and volunteering throughout the Stockton community.
During the inaugural Day of Service on August 26, more than 350 students, staff and faculty members spent the day participating in a wide variety of community service projects throughout the city.
The busy day started bright and early on the Stockton Campus, where buses shuttled volunteers to 24 local non-profits and agencies, from animal shelters to community gardens to after school programs.
The event was part of Pacific Welcome, a week of festivities to welcome new and returning students to campus before the start of the academic year. Many of the Day of Service volunteers were first-year students, eager to get to know Stockton.
“I believe that Pacific can’t exist without Pacific Avenue, so our inaugural Day of Service was a wonderful opportunity for incoming Pacific students to participate in our core values of service-learning with our community-based organizations as their first taste of what Stockton has to offer,” said Kim Montenegro, director of Religious and Spiritual Life, who organized the event.
Stockton Animal Shelter
One of the volunteer groups completed its service project at the Stockton Animal Shelter, the largest open-admission municipal animal shelter in the city of Stockton and San Joaquin County. Each year, the shelter takes in about 11,000 animals and provides a temporary home, veterinary care and other services to companion animals in need.
Pacific volunteers did laundry, cleaned kennels and sorted pet food—much needed work that Ashlyn Staley, a foster coordinator at the shelter, said her team rarely has time for with the shelter at maximum capacity.
“We have other volunteers that occasionally will come in, but today is going to be a really good day for getting everything done, wiping the slate clean,” Staley said. “Everything will look really good after the cluster of things they’re doing.”
Jayden Jenkins, a first-year biology student and aspiring veterinarian from New Jersey, said volunteering at the animal shelter was a valuable learning experience and an opportunity to get to know his new home.
“What made me want to come out and volunteer is that I love animals…we’re doing laundry, we’re cleaning kennels and just enjoying the sounds of the dogs,” Jenkins said. “Experiences like this are helping me get out in the community. I get to learn more about Stockton and see more of what they’re doing out here.”
Edible Schoolyard Project
Another group spent its volunteer day at Stockton’s Edible Schoolyard Community Farm. The farm, located in the Boggs Tract neighborhood, provides healthy food and learning experiences for south Stockton.
The volunteers performed a variety of farm chores, including deadheading (removing spent blooms from the stem) and harvesting sunflowers, trenching the land and planting an herb plot. After their hard work, they were given a few souvenirs: fresh fruits and vegetables and flower bouquets to take back to their residence halls.
“It’s really important for students to see all of Stockton and to know the different projects that are happening here,” said Nick Lee, director of the Edible Schoolyard Stockton Project. “This is a fabulous project that is supporting the community with access to fresh foods and learning experiences to support their health and wellness. The students get to be a part of that and really have a sense of pride in their community.”
Katelyn Leyva, a first-year student and Stockton native, said she decided to volunteer at the farm to connect with and give back to her community.
“I just thought it was really nice to get to know people who have the same interests in serving the community as you do,” Leyva said. “It was nice to encounter all these opportunities that you have to just give back to your community that’s always been there for you.”
Other student volunteers were new to Stockton but still eager to serve the community. Three first-year members of the women’s swim team, Gabby Schmidt, Kate Geiger and Amanda Schweichler, signed up to volunteer together. Schmidt is from Chicago. Geiger and Schweichler are from Visalia, California.
“We’ve been here a week, and we keep trying to find things to bond over,” Geiger said. “It’s important that we do our part and also become oriented with the community because none of us are from Stockton…and it’s been a really fun experience so far.”