HOOT Day heralds return of students

Westfield State University freshmen Ashley Russell, left, secures a ladder for Megan Fenton, both of Southwick, as Fenton washes the windows of the Westfield News building as part of Helping Out Our Town (HOOT) Day yesterday. Each year hundreds of students from Westfield State University volunteer their time to participate in the clean up project. (Photo by chief photographer Frederick Gore)

WESTFIELD – Westfield State University (WSU) presented its third annual Helping Out Our Town (HOOT) Day yesterday. Over one hundred students (mainly first year) were expected to participate. Students actively worked throughout Westfield at local businesses painting, cleaning, and gardening.
HOOT Day volunteers worked at various locations including the Carson Center, Boys and Girls Club, The Athenaeum, The Westfield News, Hairport, The Westfield River Watershed, Parks and Recreation, Falcone Retail Properties, the YMCA of Greater Westfield, Friends of Grandmother’s Garden, Circle K, Amelia Park Children’s Museum, and the Public Schools of Westfield. Students gathered together on campus and were shuttled to the downtown area.
Mayor Daniel M. Knapik said that HOOT Day is a reflection of the bond between the school and the city of Westfield.
“Local volunteer efforts like HOOT Day are a clear indication of the strength of the relationship between the university and downtown,” said Mayor Knapik. “We are very fortunate to have the support of the university, which plays such a vital role in city.”
HOOT Day is a project of Westfield State’s Circle K club, the university chapter of Kiwanis. This year, the project is being coordinated by Circle K president Sarah Fregeau (’13) and Residential Life intern Matt Dellea.
“HOOT Day is my favorite event of the year,” said Fregeau ’13, who is organizing for the second year. “Having participated multiple years, I have the perspective of seeing how much of an impact this project has on our community. A little bit of work goes a long way and the more people who help out the more we can do.”
Fregeau also said that there is an advantage that HOOT Day volunteers are primarily freshmen.
“This project is also huge for freshmen because not only are they doing a good thing for a community they’ve just become a part of, but they also get to bond with other people who have similar interests as them that are going through the same process of transitioning into college,” Fregeau said. “This gives them an opportunity to bond and form friendships that can last a lifetime.”
HOOT Day began in fall 2010 as Circle K community service program. The program was designed to bring together Westfield State students and the City of Westfield as well as provided students with a way to learn about their new home for the next four years. The opportunity to participate was offered to freshmen/first year students during their orientation in thesummer. Multiple offices were instrumental in getting this program underwayincluding: Westfield State’s offices of Residential Life and Advancement & University Relations and the City of Westfield Mayor’s Office, the Westfield Chamber of Commerce, the Westfield School Department, the Greater WestfieldNon-Profits Organization and the Westfield BID.
HOOT Day marks the beginning of opening week. Classes begin today.

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