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State Farm isn’t the only good neighbor out there.
Cal Poly students and community members banded together this past Sunday to clean local neighborhoods in recognition of National Good Neighbor Day, Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) President Joi Sullivan said.
“It’s something that’s really important, especially for this community, because we have such a distinct community of college students,” Sullivan said. “Having those relationships with the community is really important for the health of San Luis Obispo.”
The cleanup day, organized by Student Affairs, was inspired by conversations at a Student Community Liaison Committee (SCLC) meeting.
The committee comprises students and community representatives including Sullivan, Vice President of Student Affairs Keith Humphrey and Panhellenic and Interfraternity Council (IFC) presidents. They meet monthly to discuss different issues affecting Cal Poly, Cuesta College and the community, Sullivan said.
“There’s a wide range of entities that are very much invested in the community both on campus and off,” she said. “It’s a chance for people to share what’s going on in their end of things, to make sure everyone’s in the loop.”
In honor of the national service day, Wilshire Community Services, a local nonprofit on the SCLC, created bright green T-shirts for volunteers to wear in support of promoting neighborly acts of kindness all month long.
“The goal is to have people with or without shirts participate in good neighborly activities, take a picture of them doing that and post it on social media with the hashtag #goodneighborslo, and they’ll be entered into a raffle to win a prize at the end,” Sullivan said.
On Sunday, Cal Poly students wearing the green T-shirts met on California Boulevard and Taft Street, and on Foothill Boulevard near the Sierra Vista apartments to pick up trash in the neighborhoods surrounding campus. More than half of the 80 Cal Poly volunteers were fraternity members, according to Kimberly Hampton, coordinator of off-campus programs.
Agricultural business senior Russell Morra, a member of Phi Sigma Kappa, volunteered to pick up garbage with his fraternity on Foothill Boulevard on Sunday because his fraternity’s president sent him an email about the event.
Morra filled three garbage bags with trash after just one hour of walking through the neighborhoods by Campus Bottle. He found mostly alcohol containers, pizza boxes and cigarettes, he said.
“I think it’s a more enjoyable place to be when you see the neighborhood looks good and it’s all cleaned up,” Morra said. “No one wants to go through dirty neighborhoods.”
Philosophy freshman Jason Hopkins also chose to participate in the Good Neighbor Day cleanup. Hopkins said he signed up to volunteer at a booth during the Week of Welcome Club Showcase.
Hopkins wanted to volunteer because he believes it’s important for students to be involved in the community, especially since they make up a large percentage of the population.
“We are a part of the community,” Hopkins said. “We’re kind of one and the same. We need to take care of San Luis Obispo so we can take care of campus.”
The Good Neighbor Day event gave students a chance to see how their actions affect other community members, Sullivan said. Though students occasionally “make it challenging” for their neighbors, community members are understanding of college students’ lifestyles.
“They all went through it, and so they know,” Sullivan said. “But it is really hard when you’re raising a family in a heavily college-populated area who likes to stay up late and play loud music, and that’s fun and it’s great, but it is really hard for them.”
Though Cal Poly is already part of an “incredible community,” Sullivan said the Good Neighbor Day event offered students and community members a chance to further develop their relationships.
“I think that’s the beautiful thing about this good neighbor thing,” she said. “It gives people a chance to realize that there are human beings on the other side of the fence, and how you act even within the confines of your home affects everyone else.”