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A cadre of Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) students, staff and faculty -- led by Dean David T. Ellwood -- took to the streets, schools and neighborhood centers across the region today (August 26) as part of a school-wide day of service. HKS Serves brought out approximately 400 volunteers to 17 locations across Boston, Cambridge, Newton, and Somerville -- from the Long Island Shelter to Winter Hill Community School.
The day began with a presentation by Tim McCarthy, adjunct lecturer on public policy, who reminded participants that while they may think globally, they should act locally. Moments later the student teams and staff leaders dispersed, heading in multiple directions -- some armed with garden gloves and tools, others with trash pickers, and all equipped with the good will and determination to help local citizens and organizations.
"We are a school of government, and most students are focused on international service or nationwide [service] and this is to remind people that there is a local component to any kind of service," said Peter Brooks MPP 2013, who was one of dozens of volunteers at Cradles to Crayons, a Brighton-based non-profit that collects and distributes clothing, toys and other goods for children in low-income families. "We are reaching out to students below the age of 12 in needy situations, and for a lot of us whose focus has been big picture this is a fun way to get involved at the local level."
Several student groups spent the day cleaning up streets and sidewalks around Cambridge. Petrine Addae MPA/ID 2013 had her hands deep in the dirt along Cambridge Street.
"It's a great job, especially knowing that we are really helping the trees, supporting them to grow healthy, digging out the weeds and beautifying our community," she said. "It's something that I'm really excited about."
For Maurice Anderson MPP 2013, the workday was well worth the effort.
"We're out here trying to do our part locally where we can make a direct impact on the community and try to clean up some of these trees and take out some of the weeds," he remarked. "I think we came in at the perfect time. We got our feet wet from the start and it gets us in the right frame of mind for all the hard work that we're going to be doing later on."
The sun was shining bright along the Charles River where several student groups were out removing trash from the river bed and greenways.
"For me it is an opportunity to give back to the local community I know nothing about and actually for the first time walk around the Charles River while cleaning it," said Nayeema Raza MPA 2013, a Pakistani student who recently moved to Massachusetts.
Dean Ellwood helped sort through donated books for children at Cradles for Crayons. "It's a great day for all of us to show what the Kennedy School is all about," he said. "Our students and staff are truly committed to the ideals of public service, and this is just one way that they are giving back to our community."
HKS Serves was organized by the Dean of Students office.
Student volunteers Abby Bellows MPP 2013 (L) and Milan Kondic MPP 2013 (R) move boxes at Cradles to Crayons in Brighton.
"We are a school of government, and most students are focused on international service or nationwide [service] and this is to remind people that there is a local component to any kind of service," said Peter Brooks MPP 2013.
Students working to clear weeds along sidewalks on Cambridge Street in Cambridge.