September 20, 2011
Signs with the phrase "Welcome Sycamores" greet Indiana State University students from the windows of businesses in downtown Terre Haute.
On Saturday, some of those Sycamores give back to the community, offering just one example of the relationship between the university and its city.
As part of the United Way's College Day of Caring, ISU students volunteered at local organizations alongside peers from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, Harrison College and Ivy Tech Community College.
"We couldn't do it without them," said Stephanie Krull, who helped coordinate volunteers at Dobbs Park. Krull is the grounds manager for ISU and a member of TREES, Inc., an environmental group which also participated in the event.
Students' volunteer work included pruning trees around town, painting parking lines at Goodwill Industries, cleaning at the Light House Mission, and unloading trucks at the Wabash Valley Habitat for Humanity's Re-store.
A total of 12 local agencies benefited from the effort, which was sponsored by the United Way of Wabash Valley.
Among the volunteers was ISU freshman Haley Shawhan, who organized donated items in the basement of Ryves Youth Center at Etling Hall.
"The center's going to donate these," she said of the blankets she was folding. She explained that the items would likely go to the parents of children who come to the youth center.
Shawhan, an elementary and special education major, said she learned about the College Day of Caring through the Leadership Learning Community (LLC) at Indiana State.
Several ISU students sported LLC T-shirts, proud participants of the group dedicated to developing future leaders for the campus and community.
"That's what our group is all about, community service,"
She explained that Ryves Youth Center is one of LLC's community partners.
"We're trying to design projects for our community partners that they can continue in the future," she said.
Crates and boxes lined the table next to her, where other students sorted food and drinks to put into Friday backpacks that staff members at the youth center will hand out to families. The backpacks ensure that kids have enough to eat over the weekend, said Jim Edwards, program director of the youth center.
Edwards said the center's purpose is to serve impoverished kids in the area, offering them a place for homework help, tutoring, nutritious meals and recreational activities.
He expressed his gratitude for the college students' involvement.
"We've worked with ISU for years and years," he said. "For the past 10 years there's been a real emphasis on integrating education with service learning."
A new partnership with the university will offer an even greater commitment to community engagement.
"With this new focus, we're going to be able to receive more opportunities, more students, and more chances for involvement," he said. "It's a fantastic opportunity."
Across town at Dobbs Park, ISU first lady Cheri Bradley coordinated another College Day of Caring opportunity.
"Students are out doing what's called ‘limbing up. They go out and take care of the trees," Bradley said, noting that many fraternities and sororities were involved with the project.
"We like to be involved with the community," said senior Ben Stephan, an insurance and risk management major from Granger. "Stuff on and off campus."
Stephan is vice president of ISU fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon, which alone provided 15 students to help with the upkeep. He noted that he had the opportunity to return to many of the same locations where the fraternity planted trees last spring.
"One of our fraternity alumni is involved a lot with the TREES, (Inc.)," said Ishaan Vadhera, also a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. "Almost every Saturday morning, we're out doing something."
Vadhera's group stopped at five locations and pruned 10 trees during the Day of Caring.
Dave Thomas, who has been a member of TREES, Inc. for more than 10 years, said he appreciated the students' help.
"We would never get the job done if it weren't for them," he said.
"And we wouldn't know how to do the job if it weren't for them," added Stephan.
Photos: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Events/Days-Of-Caring/i-rBvkQFx/0/L/DSC1214-L.jpg - Students from Indiana State University and three other Terre Haute area colleges volunteered at Ryves Youth Center at Etling Hall, among other places, during College Day of Caring on Sept. 17, 2011. (ISU/Sam Barnes)http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Events/Days-Of-Caring/i-QG5TJqR/0/S/DSC1220-L.jpg - Indiana State University student Haley Shawhan folds a donated blanket at Ryves Youth Center at Etling Hall during College Day of Caring on Sept. 17, 2011. (ISU/Sam Barnes)
Writer: Bethany Donat, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University 812-237-3773
ISU students joined those from three other Terre Haute area colleges in helpling out local not-for-profit agencies on