Two days of community service

Oct. 28, 2022

CIO Division beautifies school grounds in Day of Caring and sponsors Red Cross Blood Drive

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Volunteers

Children unable to play on sun-baked, weed-infested dirt? Not if the University of Arizona could help.

Hundreds of volunteers descended on the campus of Laguna Elementary School last Friday for a day of community service to beautify the school grounds. The day was a collaboration between the Office of the CIO, the College of Education, and UACares as part of the annual United Way Days of Caring. The event gave staff the chance to connect with their colleagues outside of work for some fun and in-person team building in support of a good cause.

The staff of the CIO Division helped transform the aging grounds throughout the sunny and mild day—removing overgrowth, spreading many tons of red gravel, planting young trees, and installing a bike path. The hard work paid off in a matter of hours, with much of the bare dirt and dense gnarly growth looking refreshed and new.

“We came here today to give back to our community and give our kids a space to be inspired,” said Kevin Stolzfus, Superintendent of the Flowing Wells School District. “We are impacting their lives. All of our work today is good for all of us.”

“This is one way of showing caring. Caring is being involved, being connected, and supporting one another,” observed Robert Berry III, Dean of the College of Education. “Having our students and staff garner support with other community members is exciting. When you think about educators and those of us who work at the University, it’s an obligation to serve our community. Today is about community building and support.”

In addition to the service at Laguna Elementary, the CIO Division sponsored a Red Cross Blood Drive this past Tuesday in the Student Union Ballroom. Giving blood is a thoughtful and powerful way to give back to the community and by the end of the day, 65 pints of blood had already been drawn, saving a total of 195 lives, according to the Red Cross.  

Throughout the day, donors ambled into the quiet ballroom to have their blood drawn. Todd Merritt, an Information Technology Manager in Research & Discovery, was one of the first donors to arrive. "Donating blood made me feel like I was helping out someone in need and made me feel connected to my community. On top of that, it was quick and virtually painless!"

“We were grateful for the opportunity to partner with UACares, College of Education, United Way of Southern Arizona, and the American Red Cross on service projects. “We enjoyed giving back in our local community by enhancing the learning environment at Laguna Elementary School and helping to save lives through the Red Cross Blood Drive,” said Barry Brummund, Chief Information Officer at the University of Arizona. Brummund continued, “We look forward to supporting UACares service projects like this in the future.”

The success of this month’s events can be attributed to the efforts of Nelly Zapata and Shama Sinari, the CIO Division’s UACares ambassadors. As a starting point, Zapata and Sinari looked for ideas on how to promote the UACares campaign efficiently and engage the staff. “We surveyed our staff for initiatives we were most passionate about, and the answers were: environment, working with children and education,” said Zapata.

“We did a lot of project planning,” explained Sinari. “The most important thing to do was to get our coworkers signed up, and the turnout was amazing—we are just not computer people—this really was a team effort!”