Maine Day back in full for first time since pandemic

Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 4:00 PM EDT
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ORONO, Maine (WABI) - For the first time since 2019, Maine Day was back in full force on the University of Maine campus in Orono Wednesday.

After the pandemic interrupted the traditional day of community service for the last two years, a little rain wasn’t going to stop students from getting their hands dirty again.

“My favorite part? Probably just waking up! Just really excited for today. I think it’s gonna be a great day,” said Elizabeth Hurm, Midshipmen, Second Class, Navy ROTC.

For a lot of UMaine students like Hurm, who’s a junior, Wednesday marked another return to normalcy.

“This is like my first real Maine Day, so it’s really exciting,” said Hurm.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic sent students home prior to Maine Day. Then in 2021, in-person gatherings were still limited.

“This is my last year. I’m graduating in a week, and it’s just like, I could cry! It’s so nice when you get in there, it’s electric. The air is just electric, and we’re all having a fantastic time and making a huge difference which is the crazy part,” said Dominique DiSpirito, student director of the Maine Day Meal Packout.

“We are working on the University of Maine World War II Memorial, so it’s the MBS Corps and the University of Maine ROTC. We’re sweeping, planting flowers, just helping to beautify the campus a bit,” said Shelby Philips, incoming president, MBS Corps.

“As cadets in the Army ROTC program, I think it’s important because these are the people that were here before us, and it’s good to uphold what they did and kind of make it better for the community as it is now,” said John Nabreski, Army ROTC Cadet.

Over in the Memorial Gym, volunteers prepared about $15,000 worth of food for local pantries as part of the annual Maine Day Meal Packout.

“I’m having a really great time. It’s awesome to see everybody back in person after being remote for so long, having 300 volunteers for just one thing,” said Starla Straub, advertising specialist, Maine Day Meal Packout.

“I’ve been in the less fortunate situation side of things, and it’s hard when you don’t know when your next meal is gonna come. So, if we can help people out with some breakfast or some dinner, then I’m happy with that,” said David Gross, a sophomore on the UMaine football team.

“The whole day is about service, and so, it’s not just here in the gym, it’s all across campus. There’s literally thousands of faculty, staff, and students who are all working together today,” said John Volin, UMaine Provost.

Maine Day also coincides with Maine Day of Giving.

The university raised more than $2.5 million in the days leading up to it.

At least another $77,000 has come in on Wednesday.

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