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Wednesday, Feb 8, 2023

Good NeighBEARS keep Macon beautiful

Students help pick up trash to help keep Macon beautiful.
Students help pick up trash to help keep Macon beautiful.

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On Sept. 14, Mercer University hosted its annual community service day, Be A Good NeighBEAR. The Mercer University Center for Leadership and Volunteerism organizes this project each year with hopes that it will continue to expand and progress. This year, roughly 500 Mercer students and staff donated their time and energy to improve the aesthetics of surrounding neighborhoods and to fortify local community ties. The event has grown in size by at least 200 volunteers since last year alone. In addition to the many campus organizations, sports teams and individual volunteers who participated, Be A Good NeighBEAR influenced other local organizations such as Keep Macon-Bibb County Clean and Habitat for Humanity to contribute to the event as well. Keep Macon-Bibb County Clean donated supplies, and Habitat for Humanity had some of its own volunteers cleaning up with the Bears.

The Office of Housing and Residence Life provided a complimentary breakfast for the volunteers at 8 a.m. The 500+ volunteers were divided among the surrounding neighborhoods: Bellevue, Beal’s Hill, Pleasant Hill and Village Green. The Bears collaborated with the Neighborhoods Association in order to do productive work and to make the most out of the hours spent volunteering. By 9:45 a.m., the volunteers were already at work, laying grass and pine straw, cleaning up community gardens and painting houses.

Many Mercer University student athletes, including the girls’ lacrosse team and the boys’ basketball team, were among the volunteers. TJ Hallice of the Mercer basketball team explains that student engagement in community service is important because “Macon is home, and we want to make it a better place.” He and the rest of the basketball team agree that one of the most rewarding aspects of the Be A Good NeighBEAR day of service was the opportunity to interact with children who live in the neighborhoods surrounding Mercer. “We learned that we are looked up to in the community,” Hallice said, noticing that most of the kids were already familiar with Mercer athletics and the basketball team’s victorious reputation. Volunteers from the basketball team could be found on the court playing with some of the local children. As for the future, Hallice would like to see the program keep expanding. The basketball team enjoyed its time teaching local kids the game that they love and would have liked to see more kids come by to hang out with them.


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