Nearly 300 members of the New Haven community spent their Saturday morning cleaning up various areas of the Elm City as part of the first New Haven Day of Caring.

Organized by the United Way of Greater New Haven, Dwight Hall, the Yale College Council and the New Haven Department of Parks, Recreation and Trees, the event was hosted at seven sites across the city, including Lighthouse Point Park, East Rock Park and Long Wharf.

“We’ve been envisioning a communitywide day of service, building off of our days of service that are Yale — especially undergraduate — centered,” Dwight Hall Co-Coordinator of Cabinet Serena Ly ’20 told the News.

United Way of Greater New Haven, the local chapter of the international organization United Way Worldwide, is a nonprofit that focuses on improving quality of education, health care and financial stability in the city. According to Ly, the organization was excited to support the idea of a day of service when Dwight Hall proposed it to them.

Beth Pellegrino, United Way of Greater New Haven’s community engagement director, said that the organization worked with New Haven’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Trees to choose the clean-up sites. Pellegrino said that need and geographical spread were both factors that helped determine the event locations, each of which had a varying number of volunteers. According to Ly, while some of the larger sites — like Lighthouse Point Park — had 40–50 volunteers, others only had 10–12.

“There was a lot of variation, which was kind of cool, because some sites were super intimate, but also some sites … were really big, which shows you how big the New Haven community is,” Ly said.

Out of the nearly 300 volunteers, approximately 70 were Yale undergraduates, according to Ly. She added that while turnout was lower than they had hoped because of the rainy weather, she was excited to see that participants came from a variety of communities around New Haven, including from the University of New Haven, Yale New Haven Hospital and neighborhood housing services.

The Yale College Council also helped to advertise the event to the undergraduate student body. YCC President Sal Rao ’20 said the event contributed to the council’s efforts to strengthen ties between Yale students and the New Haven community.

“This, we thought, is a really great way to get involved in, because it is the first time that United Way is bringing together players from not just across Yale’s campus but across the entire city to service different locations across the New Haven community in one single effort,” Rao told the News.

Eliza McNay ’20, Dwight Hall’s education network coordinator, said it was “meaningful” for Dwight Hall to host a communitywide event, adding that one of the goals of their days of service is to “get to know New Haven.” However, as a result of bad weather and midterms, McNay said, it was “challenging to actually get Yalies to show up.”

In her interview with the News, Pellegrino also expressed her hope that the event continues next year.

“We know New Haven has a lot of people who are interested in volunteering, who are interested in getting their hands dirty, in getting to work,” Pellegrino said. “We’ll be having conversations about how to do this again.”

Students who attended the Day of Service praised the initiative for introducing students to the wider community.

Miles Waits ’21, who volunteered at the East Shore Park, said he participated to show his “appreciation for the city” he lives in.

“The event was a great way for me to get out of Yale and work with New Haven residents on making the city parks just a bit cleaner,” Hannah Perlman ’20, who also attended the event, said. “When you add up the few short hours of everyone who volunteered today, you realize together we made a small difference.”

Dwight Hall at Yale was founded in 1886.

Aakshi Chaba | .