ALMA — More than 300 first-year students at Alma College on Sunday participated in Scots in Service Day, an event that brought groups of volunteers to various public and nonprofit sites in Gratiot County to engage in community service.

Among other activities, students created cards of affirmation for children in foster care, picked up trash on school playgrounds, and gave a fresh coat of paint to signs at city parks. According to Andrew Pomerville, director of the Alma College Center for College and Community Engagement (3CE), Scots in Service Day is part of Tartan 101, a series of projects at the start of the academic year designed to orient new students to their new homes.

“We are really excited to see the turnout from our students and staff and the number of community organizations that expressed interest in seeing our students come out,” Pomerville said. “Events like this, particularly for first-year students, build a sense of civic responsibility and meaningful engagement that our students will carry with them their entire time at Alma College. We’re looking forward to getting out there more and serving the mid-Michigan area throughout the entire academic year.”

Victoria LeCureux, a sophomore from Breckenridge, helped supervise a group of some 30 students who were working together to apply water seal coating to the wooden pedestrian bridge at Riverside Park in Alma. LeCureux said the experience allowed some first-year students the opportunity to see the city of Alma for the first time.

“So many of our students come from outside Gratiot County, sometimes even outside of Michigan, and they might only leave campus to go shopping or go out to eat,” LeCureux said. “This experience shows every first-year student that it’s OK to venture out and see what the community has to offer.”

Students started their day at the Dunning Memorial Chapel on campus at Alma College, where they received name tags and equipment, before boarding Alma Public Schools buses and being taken to the destinations they had previously signed up for. Michelle Pitts, a member of the Alma City Commission, was at Dunning to help the students start their day, along with Alma College President Jeff Abernathy and college staff.

“We at the city are so grateful to Alma College students and staff for coming together like this and intentionally organizing an event that will benefit the entire city — not just one particular area,” Pitts said. “When Gratiot County residents see students coming out to volunteer, they start to get the sense that we truly are neighbors who are supporting each other. It’s about building that relationship between the college and the community.”

For more information about the Center for College and Community Engagement, visit