“I’ve literally been playing all morning,” remarks Emily Aronson, campus life writer in Princeton University’s Office of Communications. Seated at a tiny craft table in a classroom that has just been emptied of toddlers who had been shepherded outside for recess, Aronson finally has a moment to catch her breath.
“We’ve done blocks, cars, dinosaurs, and Frozen 2 – I was Elsa,” she continues. On a chilly Friday morning in mid-January, Aronson carved out an hour of her time to volunteer at Princeton Nursery School, an educational preschool and childcare facility in the historic John Witherspoon neighborhood of the town of Princeton, as part of the University’s annual Month of Service. From January 7-31, 2020, more than 150 Princeton staff, students, faculty, alumni, and friends and family, served in the Princeton community and beyond.
Organized by the John H. Pace, Jr. ’39 Center for Civic Engagement, Month of Service aims to engage the University community in meaningful service, where participants prepare to serve, engage with intention, and learn from their experiences. Many of the community organizations supported by Month of Service are the same as those supported throughout the year by student volunteers, who in January are often busy with finals and then away from campus for Intercession break.
“The undergraduate and graduate students who volunteer with these organizations during the academic year aim to build deep relationships with youth, with families, and with communities,” explains Charlotte Collins, associate director at the Pace Center and co-organizer of Month of Service. “We are grateful to Month of Service participants for sustaining these efforts in January and we hope that they are able to use the opportunities to explore how service can support their values, how service can be a part of learning about societal issues, and how they might play a role in community.”