'Project' unites longhorns, communities around the world

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Kristy Han, UT freshmen, scrapes off old paint on the fence at the Dove Springs Recreation Center Saturday morning.

Photo Credit: Skylar Isdale | Daily Texan Staff

An event organized by numerous University volunteer organizations teamed with the Texas Exes to orchestrate the largest day of community service in UT history.

The Project, which took place on Saturday, involved more than 2,000 participants and focused specifically on the Dove Springs and Onion Creek communities. There were 12 work sites throughout the two areas where volunteers painted murals, planted gardens and performed other beautification tasks.

Charlotte Hockens, government senior and The Project’s Service Learning Committee chairman, said The Project had more volunteers this year than ever before.

“It’s incredible that a group of full-time students can execute something that’s so beneficial to the Austin community. It’s really inspiring,” she said.

Hockens, who was working at the Dove Springs recreation center, said The Project positively affects the communities.

“The youth of Dove Springs are so excited that UT students are taking time out of their day and out of their lives to come here and spend a day with them in their community,” she said. “It’s such an exciting thing for them, which makes it even more exciting for us.”

Hockens said she believes The Project will have a resounding effect on everyone involved.

Laura Carpenter, Texas Exes assistant director of chapters, said UT alumni also coordinated a global event titled “Texas Exes Care About The Project,” which involved more than 50 chapters and 1000 Texas Exes participants globally on Saturday.

Carpenter said she believes events like this are a great way to represent UT.

“It’s a good opportunity to show the community, not only in Austin but all over the globe, that Longhorns aren’t just about sports,” she said. “Longhorns get out there and help their communities. This is about passionate people that are doing things to change the world.”

Adrienne Payne, vice president of the Austin chapter of Black Ex Students of Texas, said The Project provides optimism.

“Every day on the news you always hear the negative and you never hear anything positive,” Payne said. “I think today is important to let people know there are positive things going on in the world and people in the world that are able to help.”

Payne said the global scope of the volunteer effort makes The Project’s accomplishments more extraordinary.

“It’s not just in Austin, Dallas or Houston. It’s happening all over,” she said.

Accounting junior Lucy Hu said she was eager to volunteer in local areas of need.

“It’s exciting. I wanted to give back to the Austin area, and getting to do it in these communities has made it an even more enjoyable experience,” she said.

Hu said she will remember being part of such a large-scale effort.

“It’s nice to be able to do this and feel like you’re contributing, especially in being part of such an immense event,” Hu said. “It’s impressive. It’s special.”

Printed on Monday, January 27, 2012 as: Students join in largest day of service