University students will have the opportunity to kick off the school year by helping others.
SERVE, a student-run community service organization, will sponsor several outreach projects Sept. 4-the first Saturday of the fall semester.
SERVE Publicity Chairwoman Jamie Ranus said several different activities will take place during the day. Students will have the opportunity to sign up earlier in the week and on the morning of Sept. 4 in the Student Activities Building.
The project has several purposes, including introducing first years to the University's opportunities for community service and providing an opportunity for service "before everyone gets really busy" later in the semester, Ranus said.
Thirty-five site leaders will lead 15 different projects around the Charlottesville area.
Students "put together the whole project," Ranus said.
She said in previous years, SERVE has targeted first years as a way for them to get to know their classmates, but this year, the project leaders are "trying to get faculty and upperclassmen involved" as well.
She said activities available to students will include house repair, outdoor work, neighborhood clean-ups, home construction and activities with high school and middle school students, such as sports clinics.
She added the project gives students an opportunity to volunteer "outside of Madison House" as well as showing them the different ways students can volunteer their time.
Asst. Dean of Students Michelle Samuels is working as an advisor to the group.
"Collectively, our hopes for the project this year are increased participation and creating a very rewarding experience for the community," Samuels said.
"We hope to connect students with the surrounding communities, as well as others at the University, so they can begin to feel invested in the importance of serving others," she said.
She added the timing of the event, soon after first-year students arrive at the University, gives students "a way to become involved soon after they are settled into U.Va.
"This year's chairs are doing an excellent job," Samuels said. "My involvement with advising SERVE has been wonderful."