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The students in the University of Kentucky College of Law Class of 2018 are now several days into their first semester of law school. These individuals have chosen to pursue a career dedicated to assisting individuals and businesses in a time of need. Though they are a few years away from starting their legal careers, members of the Class of 2018 are already giving back to the Lexington community through service projects they participated in during UK Law’s Orientation. On Saturday, August 22, students and faculty assisted four local charities including Aids Volunteers, Inc. (AVOL), Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, Hope Center, and Ronald McDonald House.

Professor Brian Frye, leader of the Ronald McDonald House group, acknowledged the dual benefits of the services projects, “It was a nice way to meet incoming students while helping out a great charity.”

The assistance provided by the UK Law students to the charities varied.  Those students who assisted Aids Volunteers, Inc. (“AVOL”) packed contraceptives and HIV/AIDS awareness pamphlets. Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore volunteers served many roles including greeting and assisting individuals who dropped off donations, recycling latex paint, and helping customers load purchases into their vehicles. The students who worked at the Hope Center sanitized around 100 mattresses and chairs while interacting with several patrons. The volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House helped to clean the inside of the house as well as rake leaves in the front yard.

AVOL group leader and 3L UK Law student Matt Collins acknowledged the volunteer work was a nice break from studying for law school. “Working with local charities like AVOL is a great opportunity to get our heads out of our books and get out into the community that we live and work and play in,” Matt said.  “AVOL does great work, and we were pleased to be able to help them out.”

Though the charities benefited greatly from the volunteer manpower provided by the UK Law student groups, the students walked away with a memorable experience as well. “It was very enlightening and humbling to share the experience of giving back to our community with my fellow students,” said UK Law 3L student and leader of the Hope Center group, Hunter Shelman.  “It is important for us as law students to start giving back to our community now in order to promote future service, especially because of the stigmas that sometimes are unfairly attached to the legal profession.”

This was the second year that student service projects were included in orientation activities. The feedback from students has been overwhelmingly positive and the plan is to make the service projects at orientation an annual tradition. “I was impressed by the number of our incoming students who were willing to donate their time to helping our community, only days before their first day of law school. The service mentality of this class will serve them well throughout their legal careers,” said Franklin Runge, Interim Admissions Director and law librarian. “I’m excited to see the impact the Class of 2018 will make during their three years at law school and throughout their careers.”