IGD 2011: Pay It Forward…

Click here for photos from International Gator Day

Although the South Florida chapter of the UF Association of Black Alumni is still a newbie, that didn’t stop its members from setting big goals for themselves. One of the first orders of business was to get into the community in order to give back. And, International Gator Day was the perfect opportunity.

On May 21, members of the local ABA chapter met at the Fort Lauderdale facility of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Florida to take part in the Adopt A Meal program where organizations cook and serve a meal to residents. The South Florida ABA was able to feed about 20 people a lunch of sandwiches and fresh fruit.

South Florida ABA chose Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Florida for IGD 2011.

“In searching for a service project we worked with Volunteer Broward, where one of the group leaders is a Gator Grad, and she suggested some organizations that went along with our mission and goals,” said Katrina Moton, Regional Director for South Florida ABA. “We’re really big on outreach into the community and working with organizations that impact the lives of children and families, so when we saw RMHC, we knew it was a good fit for our group.”

According to the University of Florida Alumni Association, it’s been 12 years since the first National Gator Day. It became international in 2003 when Gators in Japan participated in the event. But, it was in that spirit of volunteerism that pushed local ABA members to do something.

“A lot of times we get caught up in our careers and we forget to give back. That’s one thing I took from UF, the importance of volunteering and giving your time,” said Special Events Chair Anita Turner.

Not only were alumni on hand, but some New Gators also participated in IGD where the rewards were two-fold.

Paige, Shamica, Melissa and Katherine were some of the New Gators helping for IGD 2011.

Melissa Clarke, a senior at Deerfield Beach High School, was all smiles as she moved around the Ronald McDonald House kitchen.

“Not only am I offering my time, I’m also learning about the school that I’m about to attend,” said Clarke who wants to study biomedical science on a Pre-Pharmacy track at UF. “To me, it’s always a good experience to give back to the community that has always been here for me.”

Paige Davis, a student of College Academy at Broward College, has volunteered at RMHC before and wanted the chance to do it again. The difference this time was that she has a family member who lives at the House, so the impact was close to home.

“I didn’t know how much Ronald McDonald House helped out people until I met her, so it’s a really nice thing for me to come here and help,” she said.

But, the day was about helping those families who are in need, and they were appreciative of what the volunteers came to do. However, they stressed that consistency is key, and the South Florida ABA accepted the challenge.

If you would like to find out more about Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Florida, visit their website at http://rmhcsouthflorida.org.


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