Studying these cells could lead to new treatments for diseases ranging from gastrointestinal disease to diabetes.
More than 700 freshmen volunteered at dozens of community agencies in the Cambridge and Boston area on Sept. 1 as part of the 15th annual campus-wide CityDays Festival sponsored by the MIT Public Service Center.
"Traditionally, this event kicks off the school year at MIT," said Heather Trickett, volunteer and outreach coordinator in the Public Service Center (PSC). "It is a great opportunity for students to 'give back' while learning about the community beyond campus."
Some of this year's service projects include carpentry work at a local children's center, landscaping at the Stone Zoo, yard work at a senior center, making sleeping bags and blankets for a homeless shelter, trail maintenance for the Boston Parks Department, and assisting with a pre-school graduation.
"CityDays provides service agencies with volunteers and with the opportunity to inform participating students about issues facing the community at large," said Trickett. "With the energy, creativity and determination of the student volunteers, tasks of all sizes can be accomplished. Organizations and students have the chance to establish strong initial bonds leading to future service commitments."
CityDays 2006 was coordinated by Daniel Mokrauer-Madden, a junior in mathematics.