National Make a Difference Day at USD

National Make a Difference Day at USD
The Student Action Office at The University of South Dakota recently held service events Oct. 23-26 in celebration of Make A Difference Day.

Each year, Make A Difference Day falls on the last Saturday in October, and organizations across America are encouraged to plan events in celebration of the day – but the SAO took it a step further with a week's worth of activities.

On Monday, the SAO partnered with Students Advocating Grassroots Environm- entalism and the City of Vermillion Missouri Valley Recycling to sponsor a recycled art project. Students had the opportunity to work with recycled material to create art projects.

Tuesday, the Civic Council visited the campus. Assistant manager Deb Pearson brought some recent donations that needed sorting.

On Wednesday, students and community members came together to make birthday cards and holiday decorations for residents of Vermillion Assisted Living.

For Thursday's event, the Farber Center in conjunction with the SAO held a panel discussion on civic engagement and volunteerism.

At Countryside, students compiled oral histories by meeting with residents, asking them questions and recording the information they provided. The oral histories will be provided to Countryside to be read by their staff. The goal of the project was to provide staff with a deeper understanding of each resident, which should increase their compassion when providing care to the residents. Students later led the daily bingo game. The day finished with coffee, cookies and conversation.

"Something that really impacted me was that most of the people I spoke to at the senior living facility were just happy someone was visiting with them. They expressed how excited they were that we wanted to come talk to them and learn about their lives," said Rachel Brown, a junior at USD.

The group of students serving at the Sioux City Boy's Club experienced quite a different day. Students worked with community members to launch the club's fall carnival and haunted house.

The service collaboration with Morningside College was part of the formal mentorship USD is providing to Morningside in its service-learning program. Through a grant from the federal Learn and Serve America through the Midwest Consortium for Service-Learning in Higher Education and the Corporation for National & Community Service, USD has exchanged best practices and co-hosted events with Morningside to strengthen its program for connecting students' academic work with real community needs.

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