Students volunteer to beautify local neighborhoods through ‘The Project’

Audrey Zhang

More than 1,400 UT students came together Saturday to contribute to neighborhood beautification in communities around Austin.

Students volunteered in four hour shifts at 17 sites throughout the city planting wildflowers, painting bridges and cleaning up schools to improve Austin. Their efforts were part of The Project, one of the largest student and community-run service events in the nation. 

Biology junior Alex Nguyen, a logistics committee member for The Project, said The Project is an annual community-oriented event. 

“Every year, the Project brings approximately 2,000 volunteers to an underserved community in Austin to complete numerous service projects,” Nguyen said. “Our goal is to help areas in need and to promote a stronger community.”

Anu Sudhakaran, family sciences senior and outreach chair for The Project, said The Project’s impacts extend beyond physical beautification and spread UT’s reputation for community service throughout Austin.

“I’ve been involved with the project for four years, and every year the volunteers do a lot to clean up and beautify the community,” Sudhakaran said. “But I’ve seen kids at the elementary schools see us and say, ‘I want to go to UT’ because they’re seeing students who care about them and want to make an impact. That’s the most rewarding part.”

Biology sophomore Madison Holloway, a logistics committee member, said the impact individual students can have is magnified when they come together for The Project.

“This year we volunteered in the Rundberg neighborhood,” Holloway said in an email. “We helped build garden beds, paint over areas that needed a fresh coat, built benches, etc.” 

Holloway said community service involvement helps students think beyond Austin.

“It’s very easy for us to get caught up in campus life and forget that there is so much more to Austin than just UT,” Holloway said. “It’s humbling to know that something we do in just one day can truly make an impact on others living in the same beautiful city as us.”

Nguyen said service events like The Project help connect students to the communities they live in.

“Austin is more than just the 40 Acres,” Nguyen said. “There’s so many different boroughs of Austin with so much history, diversity and character that we miss out on when we stay around campus. A task as seemingly simple as painting can really make a lasting impact for others.”