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Saturday wrapped up President Charles Wight’s inauguration week with students and faculty meeting to eat purple pancakes and sign up to participate in the national Make a Difference Day, hosted by Weber State University’s Center for Community Engaged Learning.
The CCEL offered many activities to participants. One activity was posting “idle-free zone” signs at the Ogden Nature Center, while other groups planted trees at Antelope Island State Park and at the WSU community garden at the Belka House near WSU’s main campus.
After breakfast, guest speaker Cherise Udell, founder of Utah Moms for Clean Air, gave a speech about the movement.
“Get inspired for what you can do individually and collectively for your community,” Udell said. “The air looks like pea soup, smells like gun metal and tastes like ashes.”
Udell started Utah Moms for Clean Air by sending out an email that got “sent, passed and re-forwarded” to many mothers across Utah. She focused a lot on the inversion and how terrible it is for the environment.
“I’m on the wrestling team, and we have to put in 100 hours of community service, so I participate in Make a Difference Day every year,” said Jon Marsh, a junior majoring in electrical engineering. “Not only do I have to get my hours in, but I do like getting involved in the community. We’re hoping to meet the end goal of 500 trees planted at Antelope Island.”
Mike Moon, the assistant director of the CCEL for the past three years, gave a small introduction to Make a Difference Day. He said the pancakes were not only to draw in more volunteers, but to celebrate Wight’s inauguration. Moon also said the idea of Make a Difference Day originated from the Points of Light Foundation.
“It’s nice being able to be a part of Make a Difference Day,” he said. “I think it’s a good turnout on the number of volunteers this year.”
India Nielsen, a junior majoring in communication and the senator for the College of Arts & Humanities, also participated in Make a Difference Day by being in charge of the Belka house’s community garden. Nielsen said she hopes the preparation of the garden for the winter will help it be ready for planting in the spring. She also hopes to be able to donate the food grown in the garden to the food pantry project for the CCEL.
“The house is used for teachers who live abroad and (are) continuing their education to teach a semester at Weber State,” Nielsen said. “When I found out there was available land for the garden, I saw the opportunity to use this for Make a Difference Day.”
She said she thought Udell’s speech was relatable and inspiring for volunteers, quoting its line that volunteers should “commit to one or two causes. Spreading yourself thin diminishes your purpose.”
Other participants included sorority members from Tau Psi Beta and Delta Chi Nu, the communication methods class, and many students and faculty.
Ibrahim Siripathane, a sophomore majoring in international business and the special events chair for the CCEL, said that, for those who want to serve but missed Make a Difference Day, the Angel Tree project is coming up on Nov. 11. The Angel Tree allows students and community members to donate gifts for low-income families selected by the Salvation Army.