Volunteers from across campus gathered at Duncan Student Center on Saturday (Jan. 20) to sort and package personal hygiene and winter care kits — 600 in total — for local nonprofit organizations as part of Walk the Walk Week, an annual celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The kits included items such as razors, shaving cream, toothpaste, winter hats and gloves and hand sanitizer — purchased with money collected from undergraduate, graduate and professional students during a residence hall-based fundraising competition in November and early December.
The volunteers also made blankets, wrote personal notes for the care kits and sorted donations of gently used winter clothing, household and family items and nonperishable goods from faculty, staff and men’s and women’s basketball fans.
This was the second straight year for the event.
“This is a really unique way for Student Government to get involved in helping the local area and encourage our constituents to do the same,” Collette Doyle said. A junior political science and theology major from Chicago, Doyle is chief of staff for Notre Dame Student Government, which organized the service project alongside Campus Ministry, Procurement Services and the Office of Public Affairs and Communications.
Now in the hands of local nonprofits, the care kits and other items will be distributed to individuals and families in need in the South Bend-Elkhart community.
“We’ve been working very hard throughout the entire academic year on a service project where we can really benefit the South Bend community, because we see ourselves as one community,” said Daniel Jung, Notre Dame student body president. “And what we found was a high need for these care kits in the community.”
As a Catholic institution, service is central to Notre Dame’s mission, as outlined in the University’s strategic framework. With support and encouragement from campus leaders, Notre Dame students, faculty and staff routinely collaborate with local nonprofits.
“I’ve been so impressed throughout my term as president with the heart of service that I see in our students and our faculty and staff. It speaks volumes about Notre Dame as an institution where we really do care about all of our brothers and sisters in the community.”
“We have to love our neighbors as ourselves,” Jung said. “It’s really a core tenet of what Student Government does and what the University does.”
An estimated 350 students, faculty and staff participated in Saturday’s event, fueled by breakfast from locally owned caterer Soulful Kitchen.
Jung, a junior business analytics and supplementary theology major from Tampa, Florida, was pleased with the turnout.
“I’ve been so impressed throughout my term as president with the heart of service that I see in our students and our faculty and staff,” Jung said. “It speaks volumes about Notre Dame as an institution where we really do care about all of our brothers and sisters in the community.”
Campus Ministry helped identify nonprofit partners for the project through its Mercy Works program, which connects students to service opportunities in the community.
“This is a way for us to reach more students through this Walk the Walk Week,” said Becky Czarnecki, assistant director of faith and justice for Campus Ministry, adding, “The people of South Bend should know that Notre Dame cares about them.”
That’s what drew Anne Roycroft to the event — care and concern for the local community.
“It’s just a tremendous opportunity to get together with students and staff for the greater good, and I just love that feeling of working together,” said Roycroft, director of the Office of Professional Standards and Accreditation for the Institute for Educational Initiatives and Alliance for Catholic Education.
“That’s what Notre Dame is all about, that’s why we’re here,” Roycroft said. “No matter what background or religion you’re from, this is a way that you can connect with your fellow humans. That’s why it’s important. We’re greater than our individual selves and collectively we’re much more powerful.”