On a cloudy, cold day in April, the Dutch could have earned $37,000. Instead, they earned the gratitude of the greater community while giving their time away for free.
Tuesday, April 22 was Central’s annual Service Day, when classes are cancelled so that students, faculty and staff can join together to volunteer for community partners. This year, 617 people participated, working on 72 different projects. They spent 2,077 hours serving the people of central Iowa. A volunteer hour in this state is valued at $17.55, which adds up to nearly $37,000.
“Service Day is a chance for faculty, staff and students to break down boundaries and build connections. It a chance to connect with the community and remind us that we’re part of something bigger,” said Anne Petrie, professor of music and class dean, who spent the day at the Pella Opera House.
The Center for Community-Based Learning at Central organizes the day of volunteer labor, calling on their connections with more than 90 community partners to find out what needed to be done. During the rest of the year, CCBL organizes service-learning for students in conjunction with their coursework.
“Service Day complements our academic service-learning,” said Cheri Doane, director of CCBL. “Whereas the course-based service involves individual, sustained service, Service Day allows us to respond to community requests for large numbers of volunteers for one-time projects.”
Some of those projects included working with the kids of Children and Family Urban Ministries in Des Moines, cleaning and remove invasive pests at the City of Pella Parks, doing yard work at the Creation Station Christian Preschool, serving meals at the Des Moines Catholic Worker House, cleaning up Highway 163 and Lake Red Rock and playing basketball with kids from the Boys and Girls Club of Central Iowa to raise awareness for Shot@Life, which focuses on immunizations in third-world countries.
Beau Williams, admission representative, spent the day weeding and planting at the Marion County Humane Society. “The organization does so much for the communities around Marion County,” said Williams. “I wanted to help give back.”
Service Day is an extension of the year-round commitment to service embodied by Central College and all its students, faculty and staff. In the 2011-2012 school year, students completed more than 73,000 hours of service.
“Service Day gives us a chance to get out of the classroom and learn in a new environment,” said Michelle Stewart, a senior who ran workshops for the Earth Day Festival for Pella sixth-graders. “It’s important to connect with the community. It allows students to give back to the communities they have been part of.”