Volunteers do heavy lifting

New students and their parents didn't have to lift a finger on move-in day at McDaniel College.

August 27, 2004|By Gina Davis | Gina Davis,SUN STAFF

New students moving into residence halls at McDaniel College and their families were given the royal treatment yesterday.

As an army of volunteers descended on cars stuffed with college necessities and the comforts of home, students only had to step back and let the movers do all the heavy lifting. Parents, some of whom had driven hundreds of miles, were pleasantly surprised to find that they wouldn't have to lift another finger.

With a steady stream of minivans and sport utility vehicles snaking their way through campus toward the two freshmen dormitories - Whiteford Hall for the women, Rouzer Hall for the men - the volunteers directed traffic, allowing a few vehicles at a time near the entrances.

"I've heard it called check-in valet," said Barbara S. Horneff, associate dean of the first-year program. "The car pulls up, a team of volunteers descends upon the car and takes all the items up to the room."

All the new arrivals had to do was open the doors to their rooms.

"I've had families who have said they've taken children to other colleges and have never had this happen," Horneff said.

It's the college's version of a hospitality committee. A group of 41 peer mentors - upperclassmen who volunteer to spend the first semester helping freshmen get acclimated - help on move-in day, as do volunteers from the campus ROTC and Christian Fellowship programs and Westminster United Methodist Church.

Their mission yesterday was to welcome the college's 420 new students - 283 of whom are from Maryland - and help them get ready for the start of classes Monday.

"You name it, we're moving it in," mentor Theresa Hess, a sophomore from Medford, N.J., said as she carted some of Katie Eberly's belongings into Whiteford Hall.

Hess was directing foot traffic at Whiteford with Kennedra Tucker, a senior from District Heights.

Eberly, who had just arrived with her parents after a two-hour drive from Cumberland, brought a few of her favorite things. In addition to her laptop, she packed "lots of clothes, lots of pictures and some knick-knacks," said the 18-year-old who plans to major in biology. She also brought her fairy collection as a reminder of home.

Although Eberly said she was "a little anxious, nervous and excited" about starting college, her mother was trying to avoid thinking about the inevitable separation at the end of the day.

"It's going to be tearful, but it's a new chapter," said Linda Eberly, who started helping her daughter pack several days ago. "We shed a few tears and packed clothes. This is our baby. ... But she said she's ready."

Linda Eberly found some comfort in how well-organized the move-in effort was yesterday on the campus of 1,650 students.

"I'm very impressed with the smooth transition," she said.

Helping with the transition was mentor Megan McMillan, a junior social work major, who was directing cars at Rouzer Hall.

"We had [an SUV] packed so full you couldn't see the son in the back seat," she said. "He poked his hand out from beneath a carpet. He was packed in there like a little sardine."

But yesterday's moderate weather helped make the day a tolerable venture. "When I moved in, it was 95 to 100 degrees, and the dorms have no [air conditioning]," McMillan said.

Matthew Raines, a 21-year-old transfer student from Carroll Community College, said it seemed as though McDaniel officials had thought of everything.

"They have everything planned out. ... The move-in was very easy. They carried everything. I carried a bag in," he said.

Meanwhile, in a line of cars along a road leading to the back of Whiteford Hall, the mood remained upbeat.

"I have no complaints," said Norma Howard of Pocomoke, who had been waiting in line for about 40 minutes with her husband, Michael. They had driven from the Eastern Shore to drop off their youngest daughter, Ashley.

"They've got it down to a science," Norma Howard said.

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