A School Community That Gives Back

An overview of Hobart & William Smith Colleges' Days of Service

GENEVA, NY – Hobart & William Smith Colleges have consistently displayed a commitment to service, which is introduced into students’ lives as early as orientation weekend.

As part of First-Year Orientation, students are required to participate in a few hours of community service. Some students spend this time planting trees or building a playground at a local elementary school.

The school implements various Days of Service throughout the academic school year. These events are optional, but typically see the participation of many students.

Students participate in a Day of Service in 2009

Students participating in a 2009 Day of Service.

The goal of Days of Service is to promote a relationship between the Geneva and HWS communities. Past days have included “working at the Special Olympics, providing trail maintenance on the Ontario Pathways, spreading wood chips on a playground in Seneca Lake State Park and visiting with residents at the Clifton Springs nursing home,” according to a page on the HWS website.

The Day of Service has been a consistent tradition in Geneva for over twenty years. However, it was not until 2008 that the Colleges’ Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL) added multiple days to the school year in order to strengthen the connection between Geneva community members and HWS students.

“[The days] provide an opportunity for the HWS and Geneva community to come together through service. These events unite our communities to make our city a better place to, live, learn, and work,” states the HWS website. The school provides transportation and lunch for all students who sign up to participate in a Day of Service.

These days are made possible through the generous support of sponsors. Past sponsors have included Sodexo, Student Affairs, Hobart Student Government, William Smith Student Congress, Pepsi, Wegmans, and many others.


CCESL aims to create global citizens who are active in their communities.

The Colleges were ranked 8th in 2012 by Washington Monthly among liberal arts colleges in the nation for community service participation and hours contributed. HWS students contribute over 80,000 hours of service per year to local, national, and international communities.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first Day of Service. Known as “Celebrate Service, Celebrate Geneva” in its early days, the program was started by a group of students and mirrored after Boston’s annual City Year Serv-a-thon. The first event in 1994 saw upwards of 500 students show up to volunteer.

Since that day, student participation had continued to be strong. Upcoming Days of Service during the 2014-2015 academic year will take place on Jan 19 and Apr 15.

Annabelle is the Editor-In-Chief of Zap Ed News and their primary hard news reporter, contributing weekly to the political and general news beats with local, national, and international coverage. She was born in Providence, RI and is a senior at Hobart & William Smith Colleges where she will graduate in the spring with a degree in Writing & Rhetoric. She is not sure what she wants to do after graduation, but hopes to continue writing.