DePauw University students participate in tenth annual service plunge

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DePauw University first-years help out Beyond Homeless 
during the 10th annual service plunge. 
PHOTO COURTESY OF MATTHEW CUMMINGS

DePauw University provides a variety of community service opportunities. On Aug. 30, first-year students got to experience how the city of Greencastle and the university have created a partnership in order to achieve sustainability.

The Service Plunge has been a part of DePauw’s orientation week for the past 10 years. Last weekend, 90 first-year students were stationed throughout Putnam County. Volunteer spots included: Asbury Towers, DePauw Campus Farm, DePauw Nature Park, Non-Food Pantry, Peace Lutheran Church, Rescued Treasures, Senior Center, Public Library, Putnam County Museum, Jay C Park, Beyond Homeless, Humane Society and Big Walnut Sports Park. Harvesting vegetables, helping clean up a park, organizing supplies and painting buildings were just a few of the activities that occurred during the Service Plunge.

“During the university experience, students are not only gaining academic knowledge that they will use for a lifetime, but are also developing skills, beliefs and actions that they will carry with them in their professional life,” Matthew Cummings, coordinator of community service at DePauw University, said. “Through service, students develop an ethic of otherness that aspires to teach them how to be an active citizen and a good neighbor to those in society.”

Cummings organized this year’s Service Plunge and hopes that student volunteers will take away a life lesson from their participation and continue the message to a career path. Based on student’s reaction, Cumming’s plan seems to be effective.

“I learned that non-food pantries are just as important as food panties because it supplies people and families with necessities that they may not be able to afford,” first-year volunteer Sarah Hall said. Hall volunteered at the non-food pantry in Greencastle.

“Food stamps are a huge help for many, but it limits what people can buy with them. Cleaning supplies and hygiene products are things that people need on a daily basis, and the non-food pantry at the local church does a great job at providing people with those necessities,” she said.

Zoe Collis, first-year, volunteered at the Putnam County Museum where she helped paint the walls. Students found the event to be very educational, as they were exposed to life outside of DePauw’s campus.

“I learned that Putnam County offers many goods and services that DePauw students should take advantage of,” Collis said.  For example, the Campus Farm grows a lot of food that is served in the Hub dining court.

While this event was mainly targeted toward first-year students, community service opportunities for upperclassmen are endless. For upperclassmen, the Department of Community Service at DePauw is open to the thought of integrating classes to help on the Service Plunge in future years as well as planning upcoming campus-wide events.

In addition to the Service Plunge, Cummings recommends looking into the Community Service Office that provides 25 structured volunteer programs, Winter-Term in Service, Alternative Spring Breaks, Civic Fellows or through their Greek organization.

Cummings was able to help out at Jay-C Park with the Mountain Bike Trail and was informed by a site leader that the work accomplished by the volunteers on the Service Plunge would have normally taken their team over a month to complete.

He feels that he has had another successful Service Plunge.