Illinois State University students made an amazing impact in the Bloomington-Normal community during the month of September through the September Service Days program. As part of the program, 182 individuals participated in service projects and completed a total of 486 hours of service.
Participation this year far surpassed that of previous years. In 2017, for example, 70 individuals participated in September Service Days and completed a total of 195 hours of service.
September Service Days is a program of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning. Through September Service Days, the center works with community organizations to plan service projects throughout weekends in September, organizes registration for student volunteers, orchestrates travel for the students to the projects, and arranges meaningful reflection time following each project.
The growth in participation this year is due partially to a new partnership with Interdisciplinary Studies. As part of an assignment, students taking IDS 128, “Thriving in College, Career, and Beyond,” were required to participate in a civic activity such as a service project through September Service Days. IDS 128 is sponsored by University College and the Career Center.
Paige Buschman, AmeriCorp member and graduate assistant at the center, planned this year’s September Service Days projects. The center’s Student Leaders in Community Engagement program participants—Lindsey Brown, Maddi Kartcheske, and Mark Murdoch—assisted.
“Overall, the increase in participation and the partnership with IDS has been a good experience for the center as we have never engaged in a project quite like this,” Buschman said.
“Our ability to serve our community partners on a greater scale than ever before is perhaps the most positive outcome in my view. Our ability to directly interact with students, and more importantly to lead them in reflection so that they may make meaning of their service is, of course, another one of our greatest achievements.”
Arranging service learning projects for 182 students over four days at eleven different locations was no easy task.
“Paige did a phenomenal job organizing the logistics of this event,” said Annie Weaver, coordinator of student volunteer opportunities at the center. “She had to coordinate not only volunteers and community partners but staffing and transportation as well. She had the days planned down to the minute and everything ran very smoothly.”
Students served the following organizations during September Service Days:
- The Baby Fold
- Central Illinois Down Syndrome Organization
- Children’s Discovery Museum
- Habitat Restore
- Midwest Food Bank
- Moraine View State Park
- ParkLands Foundation
- Prairie Aviation Museum
- Sunnyside Garden
- West Bloomington Revitalization Project
- Wishbone Canine Rescue