Despite the winter weather that has lingered through mid-April in southwest Ohio, several Oxford and Miami University organizations are preparing spring cleaning efforts to unite students and residents, as well as maintain the city’s aesthetics.
Both on- and off-campus, volunteers are displaying unity and a shared desire to improve Oxford shown by the multiple upcoming events, according to Andrew Wilson, technical assistant to the city manager.
Wilson added that the city of Oxford has been working hard to increase shared involvement between students and residents.
“Bridging the gap (between students and residents) is something we’re working on,” Wilson said, adding that one way to bridge the gap is by working to increase awareness of service events. “A lot of events go unknown to students and residents.”
Wilson said that strong participation is what drives the service effort.
“There is a large outpouring here in Oxford,” Wilson said. “We get a lot of support from businesses, organizations, the university and religious organizations.”
One particular service event, supported by more than 18 organizations, is ShareFest 2007. Spanning from Friday, May 4 through Monday, May 7, ShareFest is an effort to collect household items left behind by Miami University students to be redistributed to residents in need throughout the Oxford community and Butler County.
Jamey Rutschilling, coordinator of ShareFest and assistant director of Miami’s aquatic center, described the project’s aim as an “effort to take wasted items and provide them to families who can actually use them.”
Items in good condition such as small appliances, mattresses, furniture, cleaning supplies and fans will be collected.
A large player in ShareFest’s third year is Duke Energy Corporation, Rutschilling said. Duke is one of the largest contributors, devoting the entire month of May as part of a corporation-wide volunteer force.
According to Rutschilling, Duke Energy donated money and employees to further the success of ShareFest.
Another supporter of ShareFest – the United Way of Oxford – will participate in the community effort to collect and clean the items before delivering to families in need, as determined by the Family Resource Center, said Maureen Kranbuhl, executive director of United Way of Oxford.
“ShareFest is a true collaboration among service agencies in Oxford as well as among the academic and resident communities,” Kranbuhl said.
Service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega will also participate in ShareFest. Yet the event is only one of many the organization takes part in throughout the year.
Nora Fritz, Miami senior and president of Alpha Phi Omega, said that the organization completes at least 3,500 volunteer hours a semester. Some upcoming Alpha Phi Omega events include Silk Road, a tribute to East European and Russian cultures; Lane Library Family Night; visiting with the elderly at the Knolls in Oxford; helping clean up Hueston Woods; and the Swim, Stride, and Ride alongside Program Board.
“We have more than 100 new pledges which allows us to continue to do a lot of service in Oxford and the community year round, but usually more in the spring,” Fritz said.
Spring Clean Oxford
Miami’s Greek community will also be contributing to service outreach in Oxford with Spring Clean Oxford, scheduled for Sunday, April 22.
According to Bobbe Burke, Miami University coordinator of off-campus affairs, Spring Clean evolved out of the Greek Adopt-a-Block program and the program Trash Bash, which began in spring 2000.
Sponsored by the Panhellenic Association and the Intrafraternity Council, Burke added that Spring Clean is a way for students to get to know Oxford while helping to address trash problems.
Volunteers, mostly members of Greek social organization, will participate in community-wide projects involving litter removal, landscaping and the cleaning of facilities, according to Katie Rause, Miami junior and vice president of community relations for the Panhellenic Association.
Rause added that particular areas of focus for the event include Merry Day Park and the Oxford Community Arts Center. In addition, the organization will work with the Oxford Community Counseling and Crisis Center and the Animal Friends Humane Society.
At Merry Day Park, in particular, individuals will be landscaping, mulching, and painting, Rause said. Additionally, Rause said that alleys and streets, targeted as particularly dirty within the city of Oxford, would be cleaned of litter.
Rause said further that more than 400 volunteers have already registered for Spring Clean Oxford.
“I think it takes some students a while to realize that they are part of a community outside of the Miami community,” Rause said. “As students get older, however, I feel a greater connection to the town, not just the university.”
In an effort to encourage students to participate in community service events at Miami, the university’s Campus Activities Council Spirit Board is sponsoring OxRock07 Tuesday, April 24 at Brick Street Bar.
With free cover, the evening will feature local bands such as Marking Twain and Soundscape, who will sell CDs to benefit local high school music programs, which are yet to be determined, explained sophomore Peyton Stanforth, co-chair of Sprit Board.
Stanforth said OxRock07 is a way to join together students.
“(It) is a way to get students together to enjoy local music (while supporting a good cause),” Stanforth said. “Our goals are to promote both Miami bands and Miami spirit in ways other than just athletic events.”
In response to volunteer participation in the community, Mary Jo Clark, director of the Family Resource Center, a major participant in ShareFest, reported that in 2006 community service around Oxford has been very strong.
“Last year was very impressive,” Clark said. “We had over 6,700 hours of donated time from over 700 individuals in Oxford.”
Rutschilling said that the quality of service and quantity of hours given by students involved in community service makes up for low numbers of students participating in events.
“Students have a lot of stuff going on with their busy schedules, but they understand help is needed,” Rutschilling said. “A handful of people make up for the number of apathetic students. We have so much here in Oxford, we can meet the needs of Butler County.”