Mack Gives Back Day to “honor those who served by serving others”
Mack Gives Back Day has grown five-fold since its inception in 2012 and organizers this year are sending out over 1,000 volunteers to about 42 projects at 37 sites to honor veterans Saturday, Nov. 7. “I’m very excited about how it’s grown,” said the Rev. Raymond Dlugos, OSA. “It’s become a signature tradition of the college.”
This year’s seniors were freshmen when Mack Gives Back Day was instituted so this is the first year when all grades have known the service day.
Students, faculty and staff fan out across the Merrimack Valley on improvement projects for veterans groups as well as municipal, civic and religious organizations, said Alisha Reppucci, who’s organizing the day with Merrimack’s Community Outreach Department, Campus Ministry, the Stevens Service Learning Center and Residence Life under the umbrella of the Division of Mission and Student Affairs.
“A lot of the work they have us doing is cleaning up the cemeteries where veterans are buried,” Reppucci said. “Some are Revolutionary War, some are Civil War.”
Groups with which volunteers will work include North Andover Veterans Services, Emmaus House of Haverhill, Mary Immaculate Conception Cemeteries in Lawrence, The Wish Project in Lowell, Habitat for Humanity Restore in Lawrence, Nevins Family of Services in Methuen, and North Reading Housing Authority.
The volunteer work doesn’t require special skills or ability to operate heavy equipment, Reppucci said.
The day is in keeping with Merrimack’s history of serving veterans. The Order of St. Augustine founded Merrimack College in 1947 at the request of then-Archbishop Richard Cushing to meet the educational needs of servicemen returning from World War II. “U.S. News & World Report” listed Merrimack in its 2016 college guidebook of Best Colleges for Veterans.
Dlugos said he’s hoping the program expands further to include alumni who took part as students.
The idea for Mack Gives Back Day grew out of two plans.
Dlugos wanted a community service day that makes sense for the college’s culture at the same time the school was grappling with the best way to honor veterans.
The two ideas came together and now the tagline is “We honor those who served by serving others,” Dlugos said.
Volunteers will check in at the Sakowich Campus Center at 8 a.m. then get a free T-shirt before boarding buses for their assignments, Reppucci said.
Students, faculty and staff can still submit a late registration online at https://www.merrimack.edu/about/offices_services/mission_and_student_affairs/mack-gives-back/about.php.