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Move-In Day Brings Emotions, But Many Hands to Help With The Lifting

Struggling to beat the heat, carry heavy boxes and keep from getting emotional, parents and their kids arrived at Old Dominion University's residence halls Thursday, Aug. 27, for move-in day.

What they didn't expect to find waiting was an army of volunteers, ready to lift cargo, offer directions or just say a friendly hello.

For the past few years, ODU's Office of Housing and Residence Life has coordinated an effort to recruit volunteers from faculty, staff and the student body to help do whatever is needed on move-in day.

What's needed most is the friendly faces. A group of students from Iota Phi Theta fraternity and Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority said they carried a lot of boxes, but answered many more questions - providing directions, but also smiles.

Debbie Frantz, helping move in son Andy, a freshman who plans to major in criminal justice, was truly touched by the gesture.

"It's so very nice. It's easy to be apprehensive on a day like this, but everyone has been so helpful," said Frantz, who is from Falls Church, Va.

Andy, 18, who's nervous about his classes but excited to experience ODU's social life, said he was attracted by the school's feeling of energy and the sense of real growth in the campus community.

"I'm so excited to be here," he said.

Outside Scotland House, student volunteers Janille DeGuzman and Jon Panelo stood under a shelter, handing out male- and female-specific gift bags, containing toiletries and other provisions.

"The girls' bags are way better," DeGuzman said, dumping one out on a table. She held up a Tide cleaning stick. "Look at this! What guy couldn't use this?"

Panelo said the campus has changed dramatically in the four years he's been here. "We never had anything like this when we moved into residence. These students are so lucky, there's such a sense of community."

Personifying that sense of community, Dean of Students Geneva Walker-Johnson stood at the entrance to Scotland House, handing out ice cream to cool a hot day.

"This is such a great thing our volunteers are doing," she said. "This is the first day these students and their parents have been on campus. They're lost, they're a little scared. For them not to walk into a strange building all alone, it's - 'Sir, would you like some ice cream?'" she asks a passerby.

"It's priceless to have a friendly face, to help ease them in, so they're not coming in as complete strangers."

This article was posted on: August 27, 2009

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