Incoming Adelphi University students were out giving back in Hempstead on Wednesday — picking up litter, and, as one freshman put it, making "a small difference."
Using extended trash pickers, they collected debris in the village as part of Adelphi's First Year Community Action Program, an effort to familiarize students with their new home.
Students picked up garbage around Denton Green Park, the Hempstead bus terminal, the Hempstead Long Island Rail Road station and at several shopping centers and parking lots.
"I love it," said first-year student Hanna Stockhert, 18, of Westchester County. "It's a great way to help other communities and learn more about what's going on around us and make a small difference."
The volunteer program, which included about 25 students Wednesday, connects students to service projects the week before school starts, coordinator Kelsey D'Andrea said, adding that students learn "about school and civic engagement."
It is followed by another day of service in September at a location to be determined. In the past, the program has had volunteers at the Adelphi Panther Pantry food bank, Crossroads Farm in Malverne, Hempstead Community Center and the Northport VA Medical Center.
Students can also work with the Center of Career and Professional Development and move into their dorm rooms early in return for volunteering in the program, according to Adelphi's website.
“It’s hard work, but knowing we’re helping the community makes it worth it,” said Brian Reich, 18, an Adelphi student from Jericho.
Hempstead Mayor Waylyn Hobbs Jr. said Adelphi students come to the village every year as part of volunteer community cleanup projects.
“I think it's important for every place to have a clean, safe community,” Hobbs said. “Aesthetics play an important role while visitors come to the village to shop, we like to have a clean Hempstead and a relationship with local universities.”
Volunteering helps build a relationship with the Hempstead community while contributing to its improvement, said Adelphi student Hussein Ali Rifath, 18, of Jackson Heights.
For new student Shelby Green, 19, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Wednesday was a small gesture, but one with larger meaning.
“It seems like the little things we do as a group can make a bigger impact for the larger community," Green said.