Students to volunteer Saturday for Back the Bend, Mulch Madness

Author: Erin Blasko

Campus and Downtown South Bend

University of Notre Dame students will participate in a variety of service projects from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday (March 23) as part of Back the Bend, an annual day of service in and around South Bend organized by Notre Dame Student Government.

With support from the Robinson Community Learning Center and others, students will clean, paint, do yardwork, sort and organize donations and complete a variety of other chores and tasks for local nonprofit organizations in the South Bend area.

Students will check in at Stepan Center on campus from 8:15 to 9 a.m. Buses will depart by 9:15 a.m. Volunteers will gather afterward at the Robinson Center for lunch from local food trucks.

“We are excited to provide an opportunity for students to get off campus and experience South Bend through so many of the wonderful organizations in the community,” said Kate Jackowski, Director of Community Outreach for Notre Dame Student Government. “Back the Bend is always a wonderful event, and it is our hope that this day provides an opportunity for students to maintain or even build new relationships through meaningful service.”

Students will also spread mulch and distribute free lead screening kits as part of Mulch Madness, an annual event organized by the Notre Dame Lead Innovation Team (ND-LIT).

Lead is a persistent, complex problem in South Bend because of the age of the city’s housing stock, much of which predates the federal ban on lead paint. Children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead.

Mulching is an important strategy for limiting exposure to lead that may exist in the soil found around a home’s foundation, gardens and/or play areas.

“Mulch Madness has become an important annual event to our team’s mission to prevent lead poisoning. Our students work together with community members and organizations and the city of South Bend to provide education, lead screening kits and mulch to neighborhoods at higher risk for lead exposure,” said Heidi Beidinger, co-founder of ND-LIT.

This is the 13th year for Back the Bend, whose slogan is “Unity in CommUNITY.” In the past, more than 600 students have participated in the event. This year’s goal is 1,000 students.

Sponsors for this year’s event are KPMG, EY, PWC, Deloitte and Notre Dame Campus Ministry.

For more information, including a full list of projects, visit

Contact: Erin Blasko, associate director of media relations, 574-631-4127,