On April 24, Central College students, faculty and staff will join together to work on dozens of volunteer projects as part of Service Day. Classes will be cancelled all day to allow students to participate.
“Service day is community-building on two levels: We work closely with our partners in five central Iowa counties for projects that benefit the common good,” says Cheri Doane, director of community-based learning at Central. “At the same time, we foster stronger ties across our campus community.”
The projects serve Central’s community partners, as well as other nonprofit organizations in Pella, Des Moines and around central Iowa. Last year, more than 750 members of the Central College community volunteered to help the organizations succeed.
The service projects encompass a wide range of causes and include environmental work such as removing invasive species, planting vegetable gardens and cleaning up trash; time spent with at-risk youth, people with disabilities and senior citizens; and cleaning and landscaping at the organizations’ facilities.
One stand-out project this year was organized in partnership with the United Nations Association. Central Honors students will assist with several of the organizations’ important initiatives: UNICEF clean water campaign, Nothing but Nets campaign, Earth Day and fundraising. In addition, the “Shot at Life” free throw contest on campus will bring together volunteers, including the women’s basketball team, with middle and high school students from urban Des Moines to create awareness of the need for childhood immunizations in developing countries.
Another popular project involves the Centre for Arts and Artists in Newton. The organization’s mission is to provide an environment for the creation and display of art and to establish a new and diverse culture, including economic opportunity, for the community. Volunteers will help with the construction of a pergola on the grounds. Funding for the project came from an Iowa Campus Compact award received by Walter Cannon, professor of English, for his excellence in integrating community engagement in his courses.
Central College is committed to service and service-learning in conjunction with more than 90 community partners. The college was recently named a finalist on The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for its work in Iowa’s most distressed communities. In the 2010-2011 academic year, Central College students completed 60,598 hours of service. Doane says the college is on track to beat that number this year.