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1,200+ in SNHU Community Served 135 Organizations During Annual Event

SNHU staff working in the New Hampshire Food Bank production garden with the text Global Days of Service

More than 1,200 Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) staff, faculty, students, alumni and volunteers contributed over 5,500 hours of service during SNHU’s seventh annual Global Days of Service. This year’s annual community service initiative spanned two months and impacted more than 135 organizations worldwide. While the Global Days of Service planning committee once again encouraged do-it-yourself (DIY) projects, this year also welcomed the return of several in-person projects.

The initiative became 100% DIY when the COVID-19 pandemic forced all in-person projects to be postponed. This opened the opportunity for increased participation by the global SNHU community and was seen as a valuable component of the annual initiative. It’s an element that is here to stay.

A five-piece infographic alternating in color from blue to yellow. From top to bottom: An icon of a person and a circled heart with the text 1,200+ individuals; an icon of Earth with two pins with the text 5 countries; an icon of the United States and a circled check mark with the text 46 states; an icon of a clock with the text 5,500+ hours; an icon of a pin with the text 135+ organizationsThis year’s volunteer leaders and staff organizers created 10 global DIY and 24 local in-person projects. These opportunities for engagement resulted in an increase of 150 more volunteers than in the prior year, with geographic representation from five countries, including 46 states in the U.S., plus D.C. and Guam.

“We’ve been working hard to rebuild the movement after the pandemic,” said Sara Telfer, staff organizer and senior associate director of Alumni Engagement. “We were on a trajectory to reach 10,000 service hours in 2020 when the pandemic hit, and we saw a backwards slide that resulted in only 1,500 hours served that year. With our remarkable community, we’ve been rebuilding momentum through the pandemic, bringing our service hours back to where they were just a couple years before the pandemic. I know we'll continue to regrow the movement.”

Global Days of Service is a global movement that cultivates local impact. The annual initiative aligns with SNHU’s core value to “do the right thing every time.” Through this value, the SNHU community is encouraged not only to demonstrate a strong commitment to integrity and ethics, but also to do the right thing for its learners, employees and communities.

“We believe our responsibility to be active community members, volunteering where we live and work, is an opportunity for organic learning, relationship building and making a positive impact,” Telfer said. “The Global Days of Service initiative helps us to fulfill our commitment to local communities while offering SNHU community members the opportunity to serve the causes they're passionate about.”

Global Days of Service Project Inspires Formation of Nonprofit

This year’s projects provided service to a breadth of causes – veterans, animals, the environment, health and wellness, food banks and many more.

One of the DIY projects was “Bee Buddies: Planting for Pollinators.” Bees are a vital part of the ecosystem and essential to the pollination of food crops, but several species of bees are listed as endangered in the Environmental Conservation Online System (ECOS). Pesticide usage, extreme weather conditions resulting from climate change, natural disasters and deforestation are all contributing factors to the decline of bee populations.

More than 200 SNHU community members participated in the Bee Buddies project to address this issue. They planted their own indoor and outdoor bee gardens. Some coordinated with local organizations in their areas to plant bee-friendly plants in community gardens and common spaces. Many participants completed their plantings on or around April 22, in honor of Earth Day.

SNHU student Cassi Key reading a children's book about bees aloud.The project’s site leader, Cassi Key of Garden Grove, California, and an SNHU student earning an online English degree, was so inspired by her involvement in Global Days of Service that she founded a new nonprofit organization, aptly named Bee Buddies. Key aligned her organization’s model with the Global Days of Service calendar. The nonprofit will focus on education and fundraising in early spring, and then participants will plant seeds on Earth Day Weekend.

Bee Buddy packages containing bee-friendly seeds were sold out on the Bee Buddies website. The organization also hosted an educational event at the Hands Together preschool in Santa Ana, California, on Earth Day. More than 70 children learned about how to plant for pollinators and be a buddy to the bees.

“Our goal is to educate and motivate our communities to protect and preserve pollinators,” said Key.

Connectors Connect Through Service

The purpose of the SNHU Partnerships team is to connect organizations with the university to provide educational opportunities for their students, employees, clients and members. The team is fully remote and works across the U.S. to best support the academic, military and corporate organizations with whom SNHU partners. Being geographically dispersed, the team looks for opportunities a couple of times throughout the year to get together in the same physical space.

This spring, they timed their in-person training and team meetings with the SNHU Commencement celebrations and Global Days of Service.

An SNHU staff member holding gardening equipment and sitting on a hill in the New Hampshire Food Bank production garden.The nearly 40 members of the SNHU Partnerships team are no strangers to community service. All SNHU employees are encouraged to support the university’s commitment to making a positive social impact in the communities where they live and work – year-round, not only during SNHU’s Global Days of Service. This year’s meeting of the SNHU Partnerships team brought everyone together to participate in two Global Days of Service projects, each supporting the New Hampshire Food Bank – the only food bank in the state.

The multi-day, multi-opportunity projects enabled the team to pack food in preparation for distribution and work in the food bank’s production garden. They helped with spring gardening tasks, such as flipping the beds, preparing the fields and digging new beds.

“Participating in a service project allowed us the opportunity to spend some quality time together outside of the normal day-to-day virtual work environment that we’ve become accustomed to, all while giving back to the community,” said senior director of strategic implementation Krista Leidemer. "We had a lot of fun, and it was a great reminder to all of us how fortunate we are to be a part of this team and the SNHU community.”

See more photos from SNHU’s seventh annual Global Days of Service.

To learn more about how you can get involved with Global Days of Service, contact Senior Associate Director of Alumni Engagement Sara Telfer at s.telfer@snhu.edu.

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About Southern New Hampshire University

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SNHU is a nonprofit, accredited university with a mission to make high-quality education more accessible and affordable for everyone.

Founded in 1932, and online since 1995, we’ve helped countless students reach their goals with flexible, career-focused programs. Our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH is home to over 3,000 students, and we serve over 135,000 students online. Visit our about SNHU page to learn more about our mission, accreditations, leadership team, national recognitions and awards.