Four volunteers in Project Serve Day t-shirts are shown in this photo.From sorting food at the local food bank, to harvesting vegetable gardens, to helping out at a fall fair, hundreds of University of Guelph volunteers will head into the community Sept. 14 to volunteer with local groups as part of the University’s annual Project Serve Day.

Continuing a 22-year tradition, about 400 U of G students, faculty and staff will roll up their sleeves to help 28 local service agencies and not-for-profit organizations and put the University’s “Improve Life” theme into practice.

“It’s a great opportunity for students to put away their books for a few hours and learn about local volunteer opportunities while offering much-needed help to these organizations,” said Rei Yang, Project Serve organizer and coordinator of local engagement in the U of G Student Experience department.

This year, community partners include Lakeside Hope House, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Children’s Foundation and Guelph Pride.

Begun in 1997, the annual Project Serve day introduces students to volunteerism and to the larger Guelph community. Each year, students contribute more than 1,000 hours to local organizations, gain valuable volunteer experience and hear about ways they can continue to engage in the community.

In turn, those organizations receive assistance from eager volunteers and have a chance to form connections with students and the University.

Project Serve Day embodies the University’s spirit of building long-lasting relationships with community partners to improve life, said Yang.

“It’s a simple concept that has a big impact in terms of what gets accomplished during this one day.”

Over the years, Project Serve has seen more than 6,500 students devote 18,000 hours of volunteering in Guelph-Wellington county.

The event is supported by funding from the United Way of Guelph Wellington Dufferin.

To register as a volunteer, visit the Project Serve page on Gryphlife.