Merrimack honors vets with day of ‘giving back’

More than 900 Merrimack College students, alumni, faculty and staff offered service to area communities as part of the annual Mack Gives Back Day tradition.

Mack Gives Back Day, scheduled each year for the Saturday before Veterans Day, is intended to honor the service of U.S. veterans by serving others.

Athletic teams, sororities and fraternities, clubs and organizations joined individual students, faculty and staff in painting, raking, cleaning, stacking, sorting, packing, or making lunches for shelters.

The largest group, of 120 volunteers, went to IMEC in North Andover, where they sorted through medical supplies and created “suites” of medical equipment and supplies, some of which are being sent to Africa to fight the Ebola epidemic.

IMEC President Tom Keefe said Merrimack students volunteer with his organization regularly.

“They carefully complete their assigned tasks with respect for the doctors and nurses who they directly serve,” Keefe said. “They understand the importance of the work they perform from aiding in our response to the Ebola crisis to supplying a small rural clinic. The students accept the responsibility of knowing the next individual who will touch their work is a doctor or nurse who is now able to joyfully care for their community. We are blessed they are part of the IMEC family”

More than 25 students traveled to the WISH project in Lowell. Several groups were dispersed to Mary Immaculate/St. Mary’s and Bellevue cemeteries in Lawrence and to Elmwood Cemetery in Methuen where they raked leaves, cleaned the headstones of veterans, and placed flags on their graves.

A large group of students was dispatched to the Parthum School in Lawrence to clean and paint; another group labored in the Lawrence North Common, while others beautified neighborhoods through the Lawrence Fire Department or toiled at the Boys and Girls Club or Lazarus House.

The Lawrence Airport in North Andover was spruced up by a small group of students; and other groups were dispatched to “break down” Andover ballfields for the winter.

Although Mack Gives Back is about serving others, it is not so much about the type of service or where, said the Rev. Ray Dlugos, O.S.A., Merrimack’s vice president for mission and student affairs.

“Mack Gives Back is about our willingness to spend a few hours aware of the cost to so many who live without limbs, without memories because of head injuries, without jobs, without homes, without hope, and without love, because their hearts are too wounded to let anyone in,” said Fr. Dlugos.

“If we were all more aware of the real cost of war, we might be more willing to find better ways to make our world safe for everyone to enjoy freedom and peace,” he added.


— Marie DeMarco


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