“Woo-hoo! Thank you Beavers,” came the shout of a Eugene runner wearing the green and yellow of the University of Oregon Ducks, passing a group of about 35 orange and black Oregon Staters who worked Saturday morning to clear hazardous brush along one of the city’s busiest riverfront paths.
The group in Eugene joined volunteers at sites in 13 cities in five states and in Qatar for the second-annual OSU Community Day of Service, sponsored by the OSU Alumni Association. Despite inclement weather in several Oregon locations, the event drew about 350 enthusiastic volunteers, more than doubling the first year’s turnout.
The largest Day of Service group – about 100 – turned out in a cold Portland drizzle to clean and repaint more than 100 benches in the South Park Blocks, a downtown centerpiece. Representatives for the Portland Parks and Recreation Department were pleasantly surprised that the Beavers worked every bench in the 10-block area, while other Oregon Staters picked up trash.
Two groups of about 35 finished two projects in Corvallis, one at the Community Outreach, Inc. homeless services center and another in MLK Park on the city’s northwest side. Helping with efforts at the homeless center was OSU President Ed Ray, who cheerfully took to his hands and knees to weed flowerbeds. At the park project, OSU women’s soccer players and gymnasts teamed with other volunteers to remove unwanted vegetation and to build and clear trails.
Other teams of volunteers tackled projects in the Oregon cities of Bend, Medford, Ontario and Prineville, and additional teams rolled up their sleeves in Boise, Idaho; Honolulu, Hawaii; Seattle; and the California cities of Newport Beach, San Francisco and San Jose.
A much smaller but no less enthusiastic group helped at a fundraiser for an animal welfare society in Qatar, the small Arab emirate in the Persian Gulf.
The Hawaii volunteers had what was widely considered the best fringe benefit, a five-minute outrigger canoe ride to an island where they removed invasive species and restored habitat around an authentic native fishing village.
“What a great opportunity for Beavers to get together and make a positive impact on their communities,” said Lezli Goheen of Portland, a 1993 OSU graduate and the lead volunteer and chair of the program for the OSUAA board of directors. “We more than doubled the number of cities and volunteers this year, and we’re already making plans to make it bigger and better next year.”