DarCORPS boasts 400 student volunteers

by Allison Robbins | 5/4/98 5:00am

About 400 student volunteers braved the rain Saturday to contribute a total of 1,200 hours to 72 different Upper Valley charities in the second annual DarCORPS community service day.

"The day was a huge success," DarCORPS Committee co-Chair Zoe McLaren '00 said.

The event, under the umbrella of the Tucker foundation and founded last year by Rex Morey '99, was created to inspire students to become involved in community service and is designed to aid organizations in the Upper Valley.

The volunteers, approximately the same number as last year, included representatives from several Greek houses and all four classes.

The day began on the lawn of Gold Coast, where participants picked up free t-shirts and bagged lunches. The volunteers were then transported to various Upper Valley locations.

Some sites were within walking distance, but five school buses were used to transport participants to sites as far as one hour away. After three hours of community service, all the student volunteers congregated in the gym of Hanover High at 5 p.m. for a barbecue dinner.

Participants did a variety of services, including landscaping in St. Godden's Park, helping Operation Insulation build awnings to keep snow off the doors of low-income houses and working with local students to paint over graffiti under a bridge in West Lebanon.

Volunteers also participated in Road Rules, a scavenger hunt and community building event founded by Steve Zrike '98 and hosted by the 1998 Class Council that allowed Dartmouth undergraduates to interact with local middle-schoolers.

Zrike said the purpose of the day was to "address some of the animosity between Hanover and the College" and to challenge the students' perception of Dartmouth undergrads as "nerds who hog the roads."

Zrike said many students asked their parents to pick them up an hour late from Saturday evening's barbecue because they "wanted to hang out" with the Dartmouth volunteers.

Many volunteers said they thought the experience was positive.

Peter Agnes '99, who moved wood and rocks on the Appalachian trail to prepare the area for bridge construction, said he had "a fun time" and bonded with the teens in his group

Mia Hockett '99, the site leader in charge of Agnes and about 20 others who worked on the trail, said Saturday's downpour was an obstacle to clearing the trail, but the rain helped the group work together as a team.

"It became us versus the weather," she said.

Hockett said members of Greek houses who participated in the event were willing to mix with the other volunteers.

Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity member Dan Epstein '99, who did landscape work at the Hartford Recreation Center, said he may return to the center soon to provide further aid because there is still more to be done.

Morey said that this year's DarCORPS went much more smoothly than last year's event because the DarCORPS committee had more practice and more support from the Greek system.

He said the biggest problem were "no shows" -- 75 students who registered for DarCORPS did not show up Saturday morning.

Morey said next year he wants to concentrate on getting more staff, faculty and administrators involved in DarCORPS. He said only five participated in Saturday's event.

This year, 17 other colleges and universities also participated in community service activities between April 18 and Saturday.

"DarCORPS is growing every year and we have had a good success," McLaren said. "Word is now spreading about the event and community agencies are calling DarCORPS for assistance."

She said next year's DarCORPS will be the strongest ever.

"I don't see any reason for the growth to stop," McLaren said.

The next community service day, 'ShmenCORPS, will be held in the fall for incoming freshmen.