RIT’s 50 Acts of Kindness spotlights yearlong ways to give back

Blood drives, fundraisers and donations of food among ways RIT community gives back




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A. Sue Weisler

More than 800 first-year students and orientation leaders participated in the PB Jammin’ event, making 1,600 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for food pantries during orientation week as part of a yearlong “50 Acts of Kindness” event to spotlight the ways RIT gives back to the community in its 50th anniversary on the Henrietta campus.

It was 50 years ago when Rochester Institute of Technology moved its main campus from downtown Rochester to Henrietta. That 1968 expansion not only changed the skyline, it has created countless benefits to the region, as thousands of dollars, volunteer hours and other donations have been given by students, faculty, staff and alumni to agencies that help the community, whether it is in cash from a fundraiser, uneaten food for food pantries or pints of blood from a Red Cross blood drive.

As part of RIT’s 50th anniversary of its Henrietta campus, “50 Acts of Kindness” was born as a year-long initiative to spotlight the efforts RIT’s students, faculty, staff and alumni do to help the community.

 “There are so many things our students, faculty, staff and alumni do each year to give back, and most of them are on an annual basis,” said David Bagley, assistant vice president for campus life.

The concept of giving back to the community is encouraged early on for RIT students. Even during orientation week, more than 800 first-year students and orientation leaders gathered to make 1,600 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that were donated to five area food cupboards.

And members of RIT’s Pi Kappa Phi fraternity this week are participating in The Pedal Experience, a 100-hour consecutive bike-a-thon to raise funds and awareness for The Ability Experience to support people with disabilities.

All 56 fraternity brothers are expected to participate at some point. This is their ninth year for the event, which typically raises about $1,000 each year, said Jeff Olivero, a fifth-year management information systems major from Floral Park, N.Y., and past chapter president.

“It’s part of our mission as a fraternity to become servant leaders,” Olivero said. “We believe it is essential to give back to the community that has given so much to us.”

RIT Student Government President Bobby Moakley said he is “thrilled about RIT’s pursuit of 50 Acts of Kindness. Giving back is the best way we can celebrate our development over the past 50 years. By supporting others, we are celebrating not only RIT’s growth, but also our commitment to bettering those around us through service.”

Stephen Schultz has seen RIT’s impact personally, as an RIT alumnus, former member of RIT’s Board of Trustees and now as Henrietta town supervisor.

“Obviously, RIT has played a huge part in my life, not just from providing me the education and opportunity to co-found a company like Pictometry, but providing a real community in which to grow and flourish,” he said. “It was through RIT I honed my leadership skills and a drive to participate and give back to the community. So I am very pleased that my first year as town supervisor is also RIT’s 50th year in the town and that they are celebrating that in part with events that give back to the larger community.”

Julia Tedesco, president and CEO of FOODLINK, said RIT has donated 41,000 pounds of food, valued at more than $70,000, since 2014.

“RIT has been an incredible partner through the years,” she said. “We admire their innovative work in sustainability education and have been happy to provide opportunities for experiential learning, volunteering and other collaborative projects. RIT’s FoodShare and Recover Rochester initiatives also help reduce food waste and provide support for many of the emergency agencies in our service area.”

To learn more about 50 Acts of Kindness, go to rit.edu/henrietta50/50-acts-kindness.