More than 1,300 Marquette University students, staff, faculty and alumni volunteered to participate in Hunger Clean-Up’s 30th anniversary. Marquette’s largest and longest-running day of service was April 27, where participants could volunteer their time with 60 agencies across Milwaukee.
The locations varied from cleaning up trash in the 1.5 acre Victory Garden in the Riverwest neighborhood to carrying out a traffic study in the Clarke Square neighborhood.
The event kicked off at 9 a.m. with an opening program in WestTowne Square outside the Alumni Memorial Union. Hunger Clean-Up leaders set up several engagement stations like a photo booth, art projects and an assortment of lawn games for volunteers to participate in as they arrived.
During the opening program, some of the student leaders that worked on Hunger Clean-Up all year shared their thoughts and goals for the event.
“Be intentional, take the time to get to know your team members, take (the) time to understand your communities (and) consider what is your affiliation at Marquette and your role in Milwaukee,” Mary Thao, Hunger Clean-Up 2019 student leader, said.
Katie Kramer, the graduate assistant for the Center of Community Service, said Hunger Clean-up accepts monetary donations over the year for transportation to service sites, tools and other needs.The rest of the money goes directly to their community spotlight, an organization chosen by student nominations and ambassador votes for educational and fundraising efforts.
This year, Hunger Clean-Up donated $5,000 to its community spotlight, Walker’s Point Youth and Family Center.
“This organization has offered counseling, shelter, educational and other services to youth and families in Milwaukee since 1976,” Caroline Waltman, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences and Hunger Clean-up 2019 student leader said.
After the opening program, volunteers dispersed with their groups to their assigned locations. One group participated in a neighborhood clean-up on the Near West Side and assisted in the opening of Pete’s Pops. Pete’s Pops is a popsicle business that has sold homemade popsicles by cart around Milwaukee since 2014 and just opened its first storefront on Villet Street last spring.
Pete Cooney, owner of Pete’s Pops, is a Marquette alum and used to participate in Hunger Clean-Up when he was enrolled.
“I have a strong connection with the 707 Hub, and when we scheduled our opening day and learned it was the same day as Hunger Clean-Up, it didn’t take long for us to get on the list,” Cooney said. “It’s been awesome to see so many volunteers come out and do all this work for the community.”
The majority of the volunteers at Pete’s Pops were members of the fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon at Marquette.
“It’s great to be able to clean up a community and make it a more positive environment for the people that live here,” Ben Wrucke, Sigma Phi Epsilon member and senior in the College of Engineering, said. “This whole thing is also a really cool way to bond with your student organization, to get off campus and meet people like Pete who care about the community.”