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Class of 2026 connects with the community at McDaniel Local

Incoming first-year students got involved in a variety of community service opportunities in the Westminster, Maryland, community during McDaniel Local 2022. They helped out at the McDaniel Environmental Center, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Westminster City’s Recreation and Parks Department, and the Boys and Girls Club of Westminster.

Large group photo of students on campus at McDaniel Local.

McDaniel Local brings together students in the incoming Class of 2026 for a two-day introduction to the college and the many opportunities they'll have in the four years to come.

Service has always been a core part of McDaniel’s community culture. From the annual Tournament of Champions, Home on the Hill pantry, Alpha Phi Omega national service fraternity, and everyday acts of kindness, McDaniel students show up.

That’s why it was only natural to make service projects a big part of McDaniel Local. The immersive summer orientation program introduces incoming first-year students to campus resources, class registration, and new friends before their first fall semester begins. This year, learning about the spirit of service at McDaniel had students rolling up their sleeves and reaching out a helping hand.

Based on each student’s interests, they spent an afternoon volunteering at one of four local locations: the McDaniel Environmental Center (MEC), Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, the City of Westminster’s Recreation and Parks Department, or the Boys and Girls Club of Westminster (BGCW).

Students listening to a guide on the MEC nature tour.

For students curious about environmental service, the MEC session offered a glimpse into McDaniel’s 58-acre property filled with gardens, farmland, nature trails, and research areas.

They got their hands dirty digging holes and planting new saplings for the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s “Forestry for the Bay” project. To cool off, they then toured the acreage following educational nature walk signage. This wasn’t the first time Local attendees helped out at the MEC; in the past two years, more than 500 incoming students have completed service projects there during McDaniel Local.

For other fans of the great outdoors, the City of Westminster’s Recreation and Parks Department involved them in local park projects, like clean-up and material preparation. The organization oversees the many parks that are just off campus, where McDaniel students can go to relax, visit a Little Free Library, or play sports.

Five students pose in the Habitat for Humanity ReStore warehouse.

Many college students have scored bargain furniture while supporting a good cause at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Westminster. Carol Fearns, manager of the ReStore and a Class of 1978 Theatre Arts alum, says she’s excited to introduce students to new volunteer opportunities in the community.

“If you’re doing a major related to human services, volunteering at the ReStore is a really great thing,” says Fearns. “You’re seeing all different kinds of human service needs and how we’re solving those problems, which is fantastic.”

From organizing kitchen cabinets and renovation materials to cleaning recent donations, the students worked in teams to tidy the warehouse. The sale of donated items goes toward Habitat for Humanity programming, and the ReStore includes a job-readiness classroom that doubles as a workshop space for lessons in upcycling and more.

A students hands a child a beanbag at the Boys and Girls Club of Westminster.

Another organization with close ties to the Hill is BGCW, which serves over 150 children in the community annually. Each semester, anywhere from 20 to 40 McDaniel students volunteer their time at the club, and many of them return year after year.

Emmanuel Harvey, senior program director at the BGCW, says that the benefits of their partnership with McDaniel include growing a sense of community, introducing new students to the organization, and fostering mentorship with the children.

“We’re able to see the McDaniel student mentors grow their leadership capabilities and their skills to work with youth, whatever their degree field. We find they benefit from being here and we benefit from having them,” he says.

For an energetic afternoon, the incoming students had a chance to see what it’s all about by joining the children in activities like board games, dancing, and musical challenges.

“Local allowed us to show incoming students what we do here,” says Harvey. “That way we can open their eyes and maybe pull an individual that might want to come and be a part of this organization.”

McDaniel Local introduced the newest Green Terrors to volunteer hubs in Westminster, while exercising their skills in leadership, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Students left ready for the semester and well-equipped to start their first year at McDaniel.