UMass to Participate in Fifth Annual "Into Amherst" Day

AMHERST, Mass. - The University of Massachusetts will participate in the fifth annual "Into Amherst" Community Service Day Saturday, April 26 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. In this project, UMass students and others from UMass join community members to beautify the town for spring. Typical projects include painting pools and buildings, cleaning up parks and nature trails, fixing up school playgrounds, planting flowers, and preparing town cemeteries for Memorial Day.

This year, "Into Amherst" has been extended to include two new sites, Holyoke and Leeds. Projects in Holyoke include fixing up the Skinner Community House, and planting trees and flowers and repairing the playground at a multifamily housing site. In Leeds, volunteers will help prepare Camp Hodgkins for the upcoming summer season. The camp, run by the Hampshire Educational Collaborative, serves special needs students in the Hampshire County School District.

Local businesses support the volunteer effort by donating food or money for supplies. This year, the Black Sheep Caf? will again provide coffee and pastries for volunteers at the start of the day in Sweetser Park. The Hampshire County Jail will prepare sandwiches, and Bertucci''s, Antonio''s, College Pizza, Cantones, and Domino''s Pizza will donate pizzas, several of these for the third or fourth year in a row. Other businesses are expected to contribute as well.

UMass students interested in volunteering should contact Kreg Espinola or Karen Elam at the UMass Community Service Program, 413/545-3327. Town residents should contact John Clobridge at the Bangs Community Center, 413/256-4057.

Espinola, a political science major from New Bedford, Mass., and a student employee of the Community Service Program, says: " ''Into Amherst'' is a great event that brings students and townspeople together, contributing to a cleaner environment and building stronger community ties." Esther Ralston, of Amherst Leisure Services, says "Into Amherst" is a great help in preparing town pools and parks for summer. She said: "Students who participate in ''Into Amherst'' have proven to be enthusiastic and a tremendous help. They are willing to do any job, big or small. I couldn''t open my outdoor pools without them."

UMass students spend more than 40,000 hours in volunteer work each year, with "Into Amherst" one of their biggest efforts.