York College students give back

Christopher Dornblaser

Annie Clark was watching nearly 30 students assist in removing plants from Hope Street Gardens on Saturday. The removal of the plants is necessary for the garden's redesign to come next year. In a matter of minutes, the students had made quite a dent in removing the plants.

York College sophomore Zachary Snier of Fawn Grove pulls plants during the annual Spartan Service Day work at the Hope Street Garden and Learning Lab, Saturday, October 8, 2016. Students cleared all the plants from this year's garden in preparation for new gardens that will be installed later in October. John A. Pavoncello photo

"York College comes through for me all the time," Clark said.

Clark, executive director for Hope Gardens, was overseeing the students' work, which was part of York College Spartan Service Day, where students and alumni help in various parts of the city.

Service: About 200 students volunteered to be part of the service day. The volunteers walked all the way from the Rail Trail at the campus to the continental square in the city, where they were randomly assigned different duties throughout the city.

College president Pamela Gunter-Smith was there to greet the students before they embarked on their volunteer duties. She said before the service day had started four years ago, students had asked to be more involved with the city where their campus is located.

"This is just another way in which we show the city of York is our hometown," she told the students.

Sara Goodwin, assistant dean of student affairs, said the volunteer event was a good way for students to get involved in the community, adding that some students had received internships from the relationships they formed during last days of service.

"I think this is a great way to improve town-gown relations," she said.

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Hope Street Gardens: Thirty volunteers were sent to Hope Street Gardens, a community garden in between West College Avenue and West Princess Street.

When about 30 students arrived, Clark gave them a quick run-down on what they need to do in the gardens, and the students jumped right in. They had to clear out a 45-by-150-foot space.

"This brings hope to me," Clark said, as she watched the students making quick work of their task.

Zachary Snier, a sophomore from Fawn Grove and team leader for the volunteer group, was happy to help. Snier was helping load plants into the wheelbarrows for disposal.

"Being able to give back while I'm at college ... I love that," Snier said.

Snier said he went to York College to stay in the community that he spent many years in. He hopes to continue living in the area after graduation.

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Kaitlin Graf, a freshman from Mount Wolf, was doing a similar job. Graf said despite living in the county before school, she had never volunteered in York City before. She said when the opportunity to volunteer came up, she decided to do it.

"I just think it's a really neat experience," she said.

Another Saturday volunteer, Rachel Close, a senior from Washington, New Jersey, was helping with the garden for her second time, joining members of her sorority.

"It feels good," she said. "I love York and York City; it's nice to be able to give back."

"All students should be involved in this," she said.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.