NU swaps, walks and bleeds
With the community Oct. 26, 2006

Searching for gems at the 2005 Drop 'n' Swap.

Photo by Jay EricsonSearching for treasures
at the 2005 Drop 'n' Swap.

Service to community comes in many shapes and sizes on The Hill; this weekend, it's likely to appear as an XL sweatshirt and a pair of size 9 women's running shoes.

On Saturday, Norwich University will host the annual Drop 'n' Swap clothing exchange, and according to organizers, the community at large will reap the benefits as piles of blue jeans, t-shirts and other garments are donated, traded and recycled in Plumley Armory.

"It's one of the best examples of a true community service event where we not only have student volunteers but also community volunteers come together for a really great cause," said Nicole DiDomenico, director of the Office of Volunteer Programs at Norwich. "It's wonderful to see our students and community members getting together to provide this sort of service for their fellow neighbors."

The annual clothing exchange was first hosted at Norwich in 2005 when the school collaborated with Central Vermont Solid Waste District to organize the event. That year, approximately 350 to 400 people showed up, creating a snake-like line that wound out the doors of Plumley by 9 a.m. DiDomenico said she expects similar results this year, and that's not surprising for a school whose students, staff and faculty pride themselves on serving the greater good.

Taking in donations at the 2005 Drop 'n' Swap.

Photo by Jay Ericson Taking in donations at the
2005 Drop 'n' Swap.

Earlier in the month, the Norwich community joined thousands around the globe to participate in an International Walk To School event. Bright and early on a blustery October day, roughly 125 NU athletes, coaches and staffers met up with local Northfield children at Kenyon's Hardware to accompany the tykes on their morning trek. Sophomore Cadet Victoria Wilson said the walk was a great way for the University community to interact with and inspire local Northfield students.

"Those kids were so excited to talk to the athletes," said Wilson, a math and physics double-major and member of the lady Cadets volleyball squad. "Almost all of them have aspirations of becoming athletes, and so a lot of them were saying things like 'I want to play basketball when I get older!'"

Wilson said just walking with the kids and spending a few extra minutes with them on the hopscotch court was a simple way to reach out to her Northfield neighbors.

"I think it was a really fun way to interact with the community," Wilson said. "And I'll remember that I helped to brighten their day just by walking and talking with them."

According to Amanda Cuiffo, Assistant Athletic Director and Head Volleyball Coach at Norwich, nearly every one of the University's athletic teams was represented at the walk.

"We had far more athletes than there were kids walking to school that day," Cuiffo said, adding that next year a bigger push would be made to encourage more local children to participate. 

Fortunately, the walk to school didn't exhaust the energy reserves of the NU population. The following day the Norwich community teamed up with the American Red Cross and collected a record-breaking 342 pints of blood at the school's fall blood drive. Sophomore Brandi Jagemann helped organize the Oct. 5 event. As a nursing major and president of the Student Nurse's Association, Jagemann said it was important for her to see a strong result at the drive, but she has other reasons for that goal as well.

"For me personally, it's a very important event," Jagemann said. "I'm actually a leukemia survivor, and I know I received at least four blood transfusions during my chemotherapy. And I don't think that most people realize just how significant giving a pint of blood can be, because it takes more than one pint for every transfusion. But that one transfusion can save one life."

With these successes and the Drop 'n' Swap still to come, it would seem that Norwich is shooting for a banner month in the community service arena. As for DiDomenico, she said she's focusing on Saturday's event, and she's sure things will work out well for the entire community.

"There are free clothes for everybody at the Drop 'n' Swap," DiDomenico said, "so everyone walks away happy."