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This Saturday, Volunteer UCF will bring hundreds of UCF students, faculty and alumni together to give back to their community through Knights Give Back.

Every year, Knights Give Back strives to expand their impact through increased attendance.

This year's event will feature 24 different service sites throughout the Orlando community, four more than last year.

The event is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the CFE Arena. Transportation will be provided to and from the service sites.

"We are hoping for 1,300 participants this year, but we definitely want even more people to come out and contribute," said Todd Currie, student director for Volunteer UCF and a senior event management major. "More service hours means a greater economic impact on the community."

To promote attendance, Knights Give Back reached out to student organizations and on-campus groups and asked them to create groups of 50 or more participants within their organizations, said Fahad Siddiqui, public relations director for Volunteer UCF and a sophomore health sciences pre-clinical major.

Some of the groups volunteering this year include Rosen College Alumni and the UCF Alumni Chicago Chapter, which will be doing a project in the Chicago-area on the same day, in recognition of Knights Give Back.

Each service site is a reflection of one of the 12 social issues that Volunteer UCF works to improve, and volunteers can choose a variety of tasks, such as playing games with the elderly at Winter Park Towers, sorting donations for the Community Food and Outreach Center and even building a house with Habitat for Humanity of Seminole.

Siddiqui encourages individual volunteers to visit the Knights Give Back website and browse the service sites in advance to choose their desired site. Volunteers will also have the opportunity to speak to a team leader at the Arena if they need help deciding.

Parker Thomas, a senior accounting major and UCF baseball player, volunteered last year and pruned trees at Orlando Wetlands Park with some of his teammates.

While the work was dirty and the impact may have seemed inconsequential, Thomas said he plans to volunteer again, no matter the job, because volunteering means something to him.

"I think it's very important to give back to the community because they do so much for us," Thomas said. "... [Through Knights Give Back] we get to help somebody who doesn't get as much assistance as they need and I can use those same tools in my future career."

To encourage volunteers to stick around after they return to campus, Knights Give Back decided to provide lunch instead of breakfast this year.

"We're hoping to have a chance to interact with the participants as they return and see how their experience was and reflect on the event," Currie said. "Just getting to know people can help students adjust to college life, and this gives them the opportunity to make some friends along the way."

In addition to lunch, a DJ will be at the Arena to entertain volunteers and event T-shirts will be provided at check-in.

"It's really a fun time. It's a good way to both give back to the community and have fun at the same time," Siddiqui said.

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