February 25, 2003 — Nearly 200 University of Utah students affiliated with the U’s Bennion Community Service Center and the U’s Greek sororities and fraternities will converge on Neighborhood House this Saturday, March 1, for “Phood, Phun & Philanthropy.” The students will spend four hours, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., engaged in several work projects at the nonprofit agency, which provides day care for children and adults based on their ability to pay.
Members of the 14 University Greek houses have, for the past 12 years, sponsored Halloween events for the Neighborhood House children. Often the Greek’s spring service project has been to take the Neighborhood House children to Hogle Zoo. This year, however, the student volunteers will focus on sprucing up the Neighborhood House facility. Students will sanitize toys, spot clean classrooms, deep clean the children’s bathrooms and sand, varnish and repaint 25 pieces of worn classroom furniture-cubbies, book shelves and tables. Leaves will be raked and the sand on the playground will be tilled, weather permitting. When the work is done the students will enjoy lunch together. Morgan Stanley Bank is donating all the supplies for the project.
Clint Curry, Greek Council member and the co-chair of philanthropy, says the Greek sorority and fraternity houses have worked with Neighborhood House for more than two decades. “Because we have had interaction with the kids at Neighborhood House we have been able to see firsthand what they need. These projects allow the Greeks to interact with each other and together work for a good cause-the kids.” The 235 low-income children who frequent the center, located at 1050 W. 500 S., attend preschool and before- and after-school programs.
Shane Smith, a student program coordinator at the U’s Bennion Center, notes that students affiliated with the center participate in monthly Saturday work projects. “However, there are other groups on campus who perform great community service, but don’t get as much recognition. The Greeks really do a lot of good reaching out and performing community service. It’s nice.”
Leah Barker, Neighborhood House deputy director, notes that the agency relies heavily on the volunteer efforts of others and credits these efforts, in part, to the program’s success. Last year the agency received 35,000 volunteer hours.
Barker estimates that it would cost about $200 to have each “hand-me-down” piece of furniture refinished professionally. “Often projects don’t get done unless you can get a group together. If the U students didn’t come, the furniture would probably continue to look scraggly. When they come, the fun part is being together.”