Austin College students participated in the college’s 21st annual Great Day of Service event Saturday. The event provides students an opportunity to volunteer with local nonprofit organizations throughout the community.

Service Station co-chair Aneesa Vaidya said approximately 288 students participated at 39 work sites at this year’s event.

“It went really smooth,” Vaidya said. “One thing that was really great was having president O’Day there. President O’Day came and spoke during our morning rally. It really inspired everyone to go out and work hard. It is not what we’re used to. I know every one really appreciated that.”

In his first official week as the new Austin College President, Steven O’Day participated in the Great Day of Service event alongside students at the Pottsboro Community Garden. Other work sites assisted organizations like the Crisis Center, Helping Hands, Goodwill and Texoma Community Center among many others.

O’Day said he and his wife had a great time participating in the event.

“It was a great opportunity for us to get to know our new community and to serve,” O’Day said. “It was also a great chance for us to connect with our wonderful students. It really speaks to what is at the core of the Austin College mission and that is service and the fact that we care for each other. It was a great experience for us and we really enjoyed it very much. We look forward to being involved with the local community for years to come.”

During the inaugural Great Day of Service event in 1996, 40 students worked at 10 work sites. Vaidya attributed the growth in popularity to the college’s dedication to service.

“It is so cool to see that kind of progress,” Vaidya said. “People are really being into being part of the community. I think it’s because of a love and passion for service that’s been promoted even more over the last couple of years. Austin College really tries to foster a love for service and passion for service.”

Campus organizations are awarded Standards of Excellence points for their participation in events like Great Day of Service. By actively participating in service and cultural events, the groups earn points which are evaluated at the end of the year. The group with the highest points is awarded an SOE honor.

Vaidya explained the most important thing the Service Station wants the community to know is that they are always willing to get involved.

“If any organization contacts us, not even just during the Great Day of Service, and they have some sort of event or something they need help with, we are always going to be willing to help,” Vaidya said. “We really want community organizations to know that we are here if they ever need anything.”