FLORENCE — Volunteers wiped the sweat from their brows as they loaded tubs with shelves, boxes and mini-refrigerators before hauling off the loads into residence halls.
Though the sun beat down Thursday, they appeared upbeat as they welcomed new students and their parents to campus on the first day of “Unpack the Pride,” a three-day move-in event at the University of North Alabama.
“It’s always so smooth,” said Mike Lesueur, who was helping his son move into Hawthorne Hall. “They always help so much around here. This is my fifth year coming here. It’s really smooth.”
Nick Lesueur, a senior studying entertainment business, echoed his father’s sentiments.
“It was easier than normal,” he said.
"Unpack the Pride" kicked off at 8 a.m. Thursday with 175 potential new sorority members moving in, 109 of them moving into Olive Hall alone, according to Housing and Residence Life Director Jennifer Sutton.
“The current sorority members help move in the potential new sorority members in the morning, so they always bring a really, really huge group out,” she said. “It went very well this morning.”
Smaller residence halls like Lafayette, Hawthorne, Covington and Appleby East and West were the focus of the afternoon shift, bringing in almost 200 students.
Sutton said some athletic teams turned out to volunteer in the afternoon.
Other students decided to help as well. William Graves, Joseph Deno and Joseph Palma said they were happy to take advantage of a volunteer opportunity.
“You get to meet new people and show them UNA,” Deno said with a smile.
“We were all freshmen once,” added Palma. “We know what it’s like to try to get in here (to the dorms).”
It wasn’t just students who wanted to give back, though. Steve Choat and Matt Colburn collapsed boxes for disposal. Choat said he also wanted to help as a parent who has experienced everything that comes with a college move-in day.
“I’ve done this a lot of times for my kids, so I know how much parents would appreciate somebody helping do this, and I think it’s just another way to give back to the university,” he said.
Colburn agreed, adding he was happy to find a way to give back to his alma mater.
“I know this was one of the hardest days of the year as a student moving in,” he said. “It just seemed like it would be so nice to have help doing it.”
It was because of the volunteers that “smooth” became the primary descriptor for Thursday’s move-in, said Shannon Schliwa, who helped her husband unload their daughter’s belongings from the trunk of their car.
Rhian Schliwa, of Kingston Springs, Tennessee, said move-in was “really easy,” allowing her to focus on her excitement for the upcoming year. She will begin her freshman year next week, studying marine biology.
“I just want to meet new people because I don’t know anybody here,” she said. “I’m going to join a sorority, I think, so then I’ll make friends.”
Sutton said the appeal of campus life and the “college experience” has been a big draw for students to campus apartments and residence halls.
She expects move-in will continue to run smoothly today and Saturday, though she said volunteers are still welcome to pitch in for the afternoon shifts.
“We have worked this down to a science over the last few years,” she added.
Classes begin Aug. 21.