Topic: Student Affairs
August 22, 2016
Photo by Domenic Centofanti
Graduate students Astyn Quander and Andrew Gillette reorganize bags of fruit snacks — 200 at a time — into boxes at Second Harvest Food Bank, just north of Muncie.
Music was humming and forklifts were whirring across a 30,000-square-foot warehouse just north of Muncie, but out on the floor, Ball State graduate students Astyn Quander and Andrew Gillette were tuning out the din as they counted to 200.
That was the number of single-serving bags of fruit snacks they and several other students were placing into banana boxes Friday at Second Harvest Food Bank for shipment to any of the dozens of agencies the food bank serves.
“I was just counting 10 and — that’s 30, that’s 30,” Quander said to Gillette as the two experienced volunteers started on a new box.
These students, plus several working downtown at the Muncie YWCA, were taking part in the ninth annual Welcome Week Service Project, an event designed to open a door — particularly for campus newcomers — to Ball State’s tradition of student service. Organizers also hope it starts a tradition for the students themselves.
Student Voluntary Services kicks off its many projects throughout year
The project is organized by Student Voluntary Services, a 51-year-old student organization that encourages volunteerism in multiple ways. There are roughly a dozen one-day events during the school year, from leaf-raking to spending time with senior citizens. The group also promotes flexible, longer-term volunteer opportunities with Second Harvest, the YWCA and dozens of other Muncie-area agencies with missions such as neighborhood cleanup and local theater.
“When students feel like they belong in a community and they’re connecting with their peers who share their interests, they’re more likely to stay in school, they’re more likely to perform better academically, they’re more likely to be satisfied with their academic experience.”
— Melissa Ginotti
assistant vice president for student affairs and director of Student Life
But even on its own, Friday’s event makes a big difference.
“Yes, they are assisting Second Harvest with getting some food ready to distribute,” said Second Harvest President and CEO Tim Kean, “but they are really performing an act of service for a struggling family that they will probably never meet.”
Students who volunteered at the YWCA spent Friday morning sorting through a backlog of donated clothing and other wares.
Sophomore Carisa Burgos was among them, folding and stacking clothing that can be used by the women and children living onsite. She talked about how she contributed to the tradition of volunteerism in her hometown of Van Wert, Ohio, by working in a program that helps provide school lunches for economically challenged students.
“We have a small community,” Burgos said. “So we just rely on each other, pretty much.”
Volunteering helps students connect, succeed
Photo by Domenic Centofanti
Freshman Kelly Bassemier (left) and sophomore Layken Klinger were among several Ball State students who sorted through clothing and other donated items Friday morning at the YWCA of Muncie.
Help from Burgos and other students is a great benefit to the Y, whose small staff stayed busy providing food, shelter and other services to more than 500 women and children during the past year, a number that has more than doubled since 2012.
“So far, the staff is able to keep up and maintain because we’ve really refined the program we’re doing, and we’re being very successful with the program,” said Executive Director Nance Buchert. “But what happens is, other things kind of get pushed to the side, and one of those is managing the plethora of donations we receive.”
The benefits of the volunteer experience don’t stop at the doors of the agencies students pick. Such service also helps foster a sense of community among the students.
“When students feel like they belong in a community and they’re connecting with their peers who share their interests, they’re more likely to stay in school, they’re more likely to perform better academically, they’re more likely to be satisfied with their academic experience,” said Melissa Ginotti, assistant vice president for Student Affairs and director of Student Life. “So we think that this little entree through the Welcome Week service experience will help students who value service connect with other students who also have that feeling.”