Sun Devils making a difference in your neighborhood

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

For the fourth consecutive year, Arizona State University partnered with the Valley of the Sun United Way to present Sun Devils UNITE on March 31 through April 9 across four of ASU’s campuses, raising awareness and money for Arizona’s most underserved populations.

Students learn that it is important to be a good neighbor and take responsibility for the overall health of the surrounding community. Sun Devils have contributed more than 1.8 million hours of community service.

“Community service is so important because it gives students the opportunity to connect with the problems in their community and be a part of a solution,” said junior and Devils in Disguise chair Erica Balderas. “It allows students and student organizations to create partnerships with local nonprofits, and it allows students to meet people they would not normally meet and get outside of their college bubble. It makes people feel more a part of their communities.”

The Sun Devils UNITE weeklong humanitarian events are hosted by student organizations to raise awareness among the ASU community and focus on challenges facing surrounding communities. This year’s goal? To raise $150,000 through the series of events hosted this week including Buffalo Wild Wings Percentage Day on Wednesday in Tempe, where 10 percent of the proceeds will go towards the fundraising goal, and the Bleed Maroon Blood Drive at POST I San Carlos at noon Thursday at the Downtown Phoenix campus.

The Sun Devils UNITE week kicked off with Devils in Disguise, the largest student-led day of service at ASU. In its 17th year, student organizations participate in this project by hosting volunteer sites, engaging and encouraging their fellow Sun Devils to sign up and devote a Saturday to serving the local community.

“Events like Devils in Disguise are important because they add to the ASU experience, and it brings students from different majors, ages, backgrounds and clubs together to celebrate the culture of service at ASU. Events like this make me feel proud to be a Sun Devil,” Balderas said.

On April 1, approximately 820 students from Phoenix metropolitan campus locations and the Lake Havasu location deployed to more than 55 volunteer sites. Students helped serve their community in different capacities at organizations such as St. Vincent de Paul in Phoenix, Thew Elementary in Tempe and the Exceptional Rodeo and Spring Fair in Lake Havasu.

Lake Havasu students were part of the Exceptional Rodeo and Spring Fair. The event was sponsored by HoofBeats from Heaven, who help improve well-being through horse therapy and related activities, and Milemarker’s Therapy Clinic, focused on family-oriented and play-based speech and occupational therapy. All student volunteers were hands-on, assisting in booth set-up and staffing booths and activities.

Balderas added that signature events like the one this past weekend allow students to find ways to further their involvement with Changemaker Central — a community of students leading social change in the local and global community — and any of the nonprofits served on Saturday.

The purpose of the week is to connect students and partner with Valley of the Sun United Way to accomplish a range of goals: improving the quality of education, combating hunger and homelessness and assisting children and families across the Valley. It also encourages students to get involved in philanthropic events year-round.

“Devils in Disguise is something every student should participate in at least once during their time in college,” Balderas said. “We have numerous projects to accommodate the different interests of the student body. Students who are hesitant to participate should join in anyway and bring their friends. They can even make new friends while participating in a great cause.”