KOKOMO, Ind. — From painting fingernails, to shoveling gravel, or serving cold apple cider, Indiana University Kokomo made a difference in its community last week.
About 30 students, faculty, and staff volunteered for local not-for-profit organizations in honor of National Make a Difference Day, traditionally celebrated the last Saturday of October. The campus hosted its service day on Friday (October 27) to make it part of Homecoming festivities.
“I thought it would be a great idea to incorporate a community service opportunity into Homecoming Week because it’s a way for our students to not only connect with the Kokomo community but also begin building a spirit of philanthropy through service,” said Andréa Halpin, dean of students.
Volunteers met on campus, then took buses to sites including Silver Birch, Kokomo Urban Outreach, Bona Vista, Coordinated Assistance Ministries, Jackson Street Commons, and the Kokomo Humane Society for three hour shifts.
Freshman Juliana Estrada and Cady Boaz chose the Kokomo Humane Society as their service site and spent their time moving wheelbarrows of gravel to spread across dog play yards.
Boaz, from Swayzee, said community service is a way for her to get involved in college.
“In high school, I was a homebody and didn’t do anything,” she said. “I wanted college to be different.”
“It’s a great help because Humane Society employees don’t have to do this, or they don’t have to pay anyone to do this,” said Estrada, from Venezuela, adding that it was hard work, but made a difference.
“It might be a small thing, but we all put our heart into it,” she said.
Tara Bass, administrative assistant for the Office of Student Success and Advising, said she had been interested in volunteering for the Humane Society.
“I thought it would be a good opportunity to see what’s here, and how I can make a difference,” she said.
At Silver Birch of Kokomo, an assisted living community, students and staff helped at an autumn festival, handing out apple cider and snacks, playing games with residents, and even giving manicures.
Kadir Ali Sirajudden, a graduate student from India, chose to participate to be involved in the community.
“I wanted to be part of something while I’m a student,” he said, adding that his job was handing out cups of apple cider. “I like to help older people, so this was a good option for me.”
Amanda Bradley, student life specialist, said Make a Difference Day is a way for students to see what they can do to give back, and to encourage them to make a habit of serving.
“I’ve seen so many smiles on residents’ faces as they’ve interacted with our students,” she said. “Relationally, they’re making a huge difference and adding a bright spot to their days.
“They see how they can make this a regular thing, and how great it can be to get involved. Even just visiting with someone and painting her nails can have a huge impact.”