Students to assist with community projects Saturday as part of Back the Bend

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Campus and Downtown South Bend

Students from the University of Notre Dame will participate in Back the Bend, an annual day of service in South Bend, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday (April 1).

Organized by Notre Dame Student Government with support from the Robinson Community Learning Center, Back the Bend offers students the opportunity to engage with the community and be a “force for good” in the world.

Students will assist the following groups and organizations with a variety of projects:

• South Bend Venues Parks & Arts.

• The Notre Dame Lead Innovation Team (ND-LIT).

• The Notre Dame Center for Civic Innovation.

• The Robinson Community Learning Center.

• South Bend Bike Garage.

• Unity Gardens.

• Green Bridge Growers.

• La Casa de Amistad.

• Transformation Ministries.

• Hope Ministries.

ND-LIT, for its part, will organize students to spread mulch and hand out lead testing kits as part of Mulch Madness, an annual event aimed at reducing childhood lead exposure in the community.

Lala Petty is director of community outreach for Notre Dame Student Government.

“Back the Bend allows students to experience spiritual belonging in new ways, which stems from being in community with others and serving others,” said Petty, a pre-professional studies and Spanish double major from South Bend.

On a more personal note, she said, “as a native of South Bend, I want to show students life outside campus. I want them to know that our campus is part of a beautiful city and that they should go out and foster connections and become of communities that serve them as well.”

Keeping with that community focus, organizers have contracted with local vendors for catering and other services, including coffee (Importin’ Joe’s), food (Junbuggies), T-shirts (Mike’s AP Image) and transportation (Cardinal Buses). All are based in South Bend or Mishawaka.

A record number of students, more than 700, participated in last year’s Back the Bend, the first since 2019 because of the pandemic. This year’s goal is 1,000.

“I do believe we will hit it,” Petty said. “I believe in our student body and our mission to serve.”

Formerly Communiversity Day, Back the Bend strives to foster long-lasting relationships between students and residents. Its slogan is “Together, It’s Our Community.”

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Originally published by Erin Blasko at on March 29, 2023.