The light of the moon filtered through storm clouds and down onto a group of students gathered at Memory Mall. It was Sunday at 4:09 a.m., and while some UCF students slept, volunteers were busy painting and sewing.
The Day and Knight of Service was almost at its end.
Created by Volunteer UCF, this 24-hour event brought in hundreds of UCF students hoping to give back to the community through various charitable activities. This day-long session was a first for the organization.
While some came alone, many of the students that picked up a shift at the event did so through UCF groups, such as the Campus Activities Board and the American Chemical Society.
"The ultimate goal is to get students engaged in the community," said VUCF student director Todd Currie, a senior event management major. "Hopefully, we'll get students to connect with Volunteer UCF and to continue to come out to our program and service events."
There were 23 different activities spread throughout the 24-hour period, Currie said. Students could work during one of the six four-hour shifts, yet many picked up 12- or 24-hour shifts, the latter of which were known as the "Superhero" shifts.
By 9:30 a.m., before the activities began, students were already gathered under the Lake Claire Recreational Area to prep for the long day ahead, ignoring the humidity and the drizzle that threatened to slip into a heavier rain.
With a goal of bringing in 250 students, the event surpassed with 374 volunteers, Currie said.
The first events started on Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Lake Claire Recreational Area, but moved to Memory Mall after the first 12 hours.
"I feel like it's a good thing to do," said junior radio-television production major Ryan Rasmussen, who volunteered with CAB for the 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. shift. "Blake [Anderson], our student director, brought it up at a meeting and said that it's something we should all consider."
While a variety of activities took place at UCF, many others were scattered throughout the Central Florida area. Some of these off-campus activities included landscaping in Kissimmee and making storm drains in Casselberry.
There were attendees in addition to the volunteers, however, like 8-year-old Zariah Pender, who came with her family for the "Exercising with the Youth" project at the UCF Intramural Field.
"There was a paper at school that said 'family field day,'" Zariah said. "I thought we should all go together."
Zariah's mother, Natasha Lockett, said that the event was a great way to get local families involved in the Greater Orlando community.
"They should continue to have more events like this to showcase outdoor activities and get families involved," Lockett said.
After some time to recollect and eat doughnuts, Day and Knight of Service ended with recognition for students who took on the Superhero shift. With a few farewells, students stumbled back to their lives, the topic of sleep consistently being brought up as they walked away.
"It was a success," Currie said. "The weather presented a little bit of a challenge, but we were able to pull it together and do a lot [of] service, which is what it was all about."
Kimberly Slichter is a contributing writer for the Central Florida Future.