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Florida Gulf Coast University
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FGCU, Wells Fargo Give 900 Hours to Area Groups on Make a Difference Day
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) and Wells Fargo combined forces Saturday to tackle projects for eight area not-for-profit organizations and FGCU on national Make a Difference Day.
Some 200 students, 75 Wells Fargo team members, 25 FGCU alumni and 25 faculty and staff members fanned out across the region to volunteer at organizations in Fort Myers, Bonita Springs and Naples for the second annual event.
"We can make a bigger difference when we partner with others, and Wells Fargo is a great community partner," FGCU President Wilson G. Bradshaw told the assembled group early Saturday morning. "Together we're helping to make a difference in the community, not just on Make a Difference Day, but every day."
Wells Fargo Regional President Derek Jones, who moved to the area four months ago, said he is impressed by "the power of having everyone together to make a difference. Wells Fargo is excited to have the opportunity to partner with FGCU on this day."
After gathering at FGCU's Alico Arena, the group split into working teams, boarded buses and headed off for several hours of work around the county.
The projects they completed are as follows:
• Cleaned the beach and removed exotic species at Barefoot Beach Preserve in North Naples.
• Installed aluminum hiking trail signs and cleaned the trail and general site at Bonita Nature Place in Bonita Springs.
• Created "The Difference Your Life Made" books with residents, refurbished wheelchair accessible garden beds and assisted residents in creating Facebook accounts at Cypress Cove in Fort Myers.
• Built a raised garden for students at Easter Seals Lily Academy in Naples.
• Painted kennels and assisted with a garage sale and car wash at Gulf Coast Humane Society in Fort Myers.
• Prepared food packages for distribution at Harry Chapin Food Bank's warehouse in Fort Myers.
• Renovated the basketball court and beautified the grounds of the Salvation Army in Fort Myers.
• Constructed a sensory trail activity and helped clear the grounds at Special Equestrians in Fort Myers.
• Planted trees and beautified grounds on the FGCU campus.
• Constructed an outdoor room with bamboo and vines and beautified the grounds of the FGCU Family Resource Center.
• Helped in gardening activities at the Food Forest on the FGCU campus.
Jan Fifer, executive director for Special Equestrians, said the group truly appreciates volunteer efforts such as this.
"We have 110 volunteers who help with classes here," she says, referring to the therapeutic riding classes they offer disabled people ages 2 to 75 years. "We can't ask them to fix things, too, so when groups like FGCU and Wells Fargo come out, it's an amazing thing."
Close to 30 FGCU/Wells Fargo volunteers joined about 18 from The News-Press to lend a hand there.
Asked what she got out of volunteering, FGCU senior Cynthia Rubio said, "What don't you get out of it? You get so much joy out of helping an organization that focuses on helping others. That's why we come here."
She helped clean up the grounds at the Salvation Army.
The FGCU Foundation, Alumni Association and Center for Civic Engagement and Service Learning hosted the event.
A project begun more than 20 years ago by USA Weekend magazine, Make a Difference Day is now among the largest national days of service, with millions of volunteers stepping up to help in their communities.
For more information about the FGCU/Wells Fargo projects, contact Kimberly Wallace, alumni programming and membership at (954) 294-1547.