Each March, Arizona State University alumni organize service projects in their local communities. These events are part of ASU Cares, a series of volunteer activities hosted by ASU alumni chapters across the country. Sixteen ASU Cares events took place this year, ranging from donation drives to meal delivery days.
The university first developed ASU Cares several years ago, but the Alumni Association adopted the initiative in 2009. The association expanded the project beyond Tempe to all alumni across the nation. In the beginning years, Sun Devils on the ASU campus participated in a clean up of "A" Mountain and various alumni groups hosted food drives, beach cleanups and other service projects in their local communities.
“Chapters all across the country organized ASU Cares volunteer projects. In 2009, all chapters held their events on the same day,” said Trish Thiele-Keating, ASU Alumni Association director of chapter relations. “Now, ASU Cares projects take place throughout the month of March so that more Sun Devils can get involved.”
The Alumni Association hosts an annual service project in Tempe for local alumni to attend. This year, in collaboration with ASU Ground Services, the Alumni Association invited Sun Devils to pick Seville oranges from the trees on the ASU Tempe campus to highlight ASU’s commitment to sustainability. Based on the amount collected, oranges may be used as compost or even served in dining halls on campus. Thiele-Keating said that the project has attracted more ASU groups over the years.
“Greek organizations, ASU staff, families, Medallion Scholars and local special interest alumni chapters have all helped in the orange harvest,” she said.
This year, though a limited number of people were able to attend the harvest due to social distancing and a limit on number of participants, Sun Devils were still able to collect oranges.
Despite unique circumstances, 16 alumni chapters from coast to coast were also able to host ASU Cares projects and bring together fellow Sun Devils while following safety protocols as dictated by the state in which they took place. Chapters that hosted in-person events were also sent a special package for their volunteer project by the Alumni Association.
“We sent ASU masks to all groups who were doing in-person and group events. That way, they could be safe and show their ASU spirit,” Thiele-Keating said.
The Orange County, California, alumni chapter carried on their tradition of hosting a cleanup at Huntington Beach.
Herm Jack Ajamian, member of the chapter, has been going to the chapter’s annual cleanup of the beachfront and boardwalk for many years, even before he became officially involved in the alumni chapter.
“The ocean and beach are such an important part of Orange County,” he said. “I appreciate that we were able to get together safely as a group in a beautiful outdoor atmosphere.”
The Iranian American alumni club also continued their tradition of hosting a food drive for A New Leaf, a nonprofit dedicated to providing essential community resources to Arizona’s most vulnerable populations. Alumni could collect food on their own and bring them to various drop-off points, which was then collected and donated to A New Leaf.
Many chapters weren’t able to do their typical in-person projects due to local guidelines, yet were still able to host successful events.
Utah’s ASU Alumni chapter adopts a classroom each year at an elementary school in the Salt Lake City area as a part of ASU Cares. They would typically visit students in person to teach them about ASU and various majors they could pursue in college, but decided to host these sessions on Zoom this year. Regardless of how they met Sun Devil alums, the students were still able to learn about the university.
“ASU Cares connects to the ASU Charter by advancing the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the various communities we serve across the country,” Thiele-Keating said.
If you’re interested in participating in future volunteer events, contact an ASU Alumni geographic, special interest or academic chapter or club for more information. See a full list of alumni chapters and clubs.
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