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St. Vincent students roll up their sleeves to help neighbors

Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - St. Vincent College freshman Maura Halferty,18, of Bloomfield gives the rink a new look with some red paint.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>St. Vincent College freshman Maura Halferty,18, of Bloomfield gives the rink a new look with some red paint.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Ethan Madey,19, of Altoona paints Latrobe Unity Parks and Recreation's dek hockey rink in the city. Nearly 500 St. Vincent College students volunteered for community service projects throughout Westmoreland County Friday.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Ethan Madey,19, of Altoona paints Latrobe Unity Parks and Recreation's dek hockey rink in the city.  Nearly 500 St. Vincent College students volunteered for community service projects throughout Westmoreland County Friday.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - St. Vincent College orientation committee members Kyrie Lokhaiser, 21, (right) and Dante Gentile, 20, paint the dek hockey rink in Latrobe.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>St. Vincent College orientation committee members Kyrie Lokhaiser, 21, (right) and Dante Gentile, 20, paint the dek hockey rink in  Latrobe.

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Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013, 8:53 p.m.
 

Sarah Robbins and Marina Ulhaq spun the merry-go-round at the Irving Avenue Playground in Latrobe to add a coat of green paint to the well-worn equipment.

They were among about 600 St. Vincent College students who fanned out through Greensburg, Jeannette, Latrobe and Ligonier for service projects on Friday afternoon. This is the sixth year students have worked for local nonprofit organizations.

Kelly King, service learning director at St. Vincent, said students like painting, landscaping and getting their hands dirty.

“The students prefer to be active and busy,” and see a visible difference when they're finished, she said.

Ulhaq, a junior from New Castle, said she returned to help lead freshmen on orientation projects because she's able to see more of Westmoreland County beyond the borders of the Unity campus.

“It's not something that happens in your everyday life, so it's nice to get out and do something like this,” she said.

King said from year to year, different agencies have different needs. Each submits a request for a certain number of students and she plans the projects accordingly.

Some washed trucks for the American Red Cross in Greensburg, while others painted the dek hockey arena in Latrobe's Legion Keener Park or helped senior citizens with yard work through Faith In Action.

The group included about 475 freshmen and 130 upper classmen who were taken by bus to the sites,

Robbins, a junior from Hollidaysburg, said she returns each year to welcome new students.

The program helps support St. Vincent's Benedictine mission of reaching out to nearby communities, King said.

Students “understand themselves to be at the service of their neighbors,” she said.

Jarod Trunzo, sustainability coordinator for the city of Latrobe, said the program is making an impact.

“St. Vincent's been making the event better every year and doing a little more good for the community every year,” he said.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or sfederoff@tribweb.com.

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