Online Exclusive!!! Students leap for community

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    This year for the first time, students were able to sign up online for TCU Leaps – an annual one-day community service event taking place this Saturday, said the TCU Leaps adviser. Peter Thompson, Leaps adviser and program coordinator in the Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning, said the online sign-up, which allowed students to pick their top three site choices for community service, was offered so more people would show up for the event.

    “In the past, our biggest issue has been attrition,” Thompson said. “We would have over 1,000 people sign up, but on the day of, only 600 would actually show up.”

    Thompson said this year the team has sent confirmation e-mails and the team leaders for each service site will contact students who have already signed up, which the team hopes will lead to a higher rate of participation.

    About 850 students and faculty are signed up so far to participate this year, said Morgan Kennedy, a senior speech language pathology major and student director of TCU Leaps.

    Teams will be volunteering at more than 30 local sites, including nursing homes, the Red Cross, YMCAs and a plant sale at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden.

    Volunteers for Leaps will report to Sadler Lawn at 9 a.m. Saturday. They will have a chance to eat bagels from Panera- Bread and get their free T-shirts before boarding school buses and heading to their sites, Thompson said.

    Volunteers will spend about three hours at their sites before returning to campus for an afterparty, Thompson said.

    Those who have not yet registered are welcome to register Saturday morning at the walk-up table, said Kerri Westfield, a junior business major and registration coordinator for Leaps.

    Kennedy said the team encourages anyone who wants to volunteer to show up Saturday morning.

    “They won’t be guaranteed a shirt,” Thompson said, “but there will be enough food, and they can definitely help at one of the sites.”

    Kennedy said Leaps is a great opportunity for TCU students to give back to the community.

    “Fort Worth gives so much to us as students,” Kennedy said. “It’s a good time for us to give back and show that we appreciate them.”

    Thompson said they tried to keep all of the work sites within a five-mile radius of campus.

    “In the past, we wasted a lot of time on travel,” he said.

    Also taking place on Saturday is Reading Frogs, which starts at 8 a.m. in Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. Reading Frogs is sponsored by Score a Goal in the Classroom, a program that encourages children to stay in school. Local elementary school students will be bused in for Reading Frogs and volunteers will spend time reading to the students, Thompson said.

    This is an annual event, Thompson said, and this year it just happens to take place on the same day as Leaps.

    “We teamed up with them,” Kennedy said. “We’re helping them, and they’re helping us.”

    Last year’s Leaps was canceled due to the threat of Hurricane Rita. There are eight students on the Leaps executive committee, Kennedy said, and they have been planning the event since last April.

    “Our goal is to get everyone on campus to act as a united front,” she said, “and to help in the community that we thrive in.