Civic Fellows had been organizing an annual "Rake and Run" long before sophomore Bryna Capshew arrived at DePauw. But as head of this year's event, she's certain that "Rake and Run" originated from students who wanted to make a positive impact in the Greencastle community.
"Rake and Run is a great way to show the community that students do indeed venture outside the DePauw bubble and really are interested in helping people," Capshew said.
Started in 1997, Civic Fellows is a service-based leadership development program committed to leadership in civic issues. According to their web page, they seek to promote awareness of community through group service, reflection and education.
This year, "Rake and Run" consisted of about 50 volunteers who traveled around the Greencastle community on Saturday, Oct. 29 raking yards for elderly people and others who were unable to do so themselves.
In addition to sponsoring the event, 20 Civic Fellows helped out on the day. For extra assistance, the group reached out to the DePauw community through the Community Service Council, comprised of representatives from community service organizations on campus. They also requested assistance from greek house philanthropy chairs.
"Students from the greek community and other on-campus volunteer organizations are all involved," Capshew said.
Senior Wesley Jones decided to volunteer for "Rake and Run" because she said it seemed like a great way to assist the DePauw community and also go out and about on a Saturday fall morning.
"I thought it was awesome to be a part of the Civic Fellows," she said. "It was great to get an opportunity to be involved with them."
According to Capshew, one of the best parts about this type of volunteer work is that it fosters solidarity — not only between the volunteers who bond over the piles of leaves they rake, but between the DePauw and Greencastle communities as well.
"Volunteering and seeing how people come together to achieve some common good is just an amazing experience," Capshew said.
Along with cleaning lawns, Capshew also hopes that "Rake and Run" will serve to help bridge the gap between Greencastle and DePauw.
"There is still a division between town and gown, and hopefully by having a large number of DePauw students out in the community helping people, Greencastle residents will become more receptive to us, and vice versa," Capshew said.
Greencastle resident Ola Eululonia has been benefitting from "Rake and Run" for five years, and she's always the first to call to be added to the list. She considers herself enormously fortunate to hear about the event through word of mouth. Since she is legally blind and has arthritic knees, it's difficult for her to rake leaves on her own. "Rake and Run" saves her the trouble of doing it herself.
"I think it is magnificent … And it is wonderful to have around for a senior citizen like me," she said, adding that she couldn't imagine anything she'd like to improve or change about the event. "The children are wonderful. It's so nice not only to have them do it but to know that they want to do it. They really are so nice and so kind and to know that it's their pleasure ... It's heartwarming."
Dorothy Brown, house director of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and namesake of the Dorothy Brown House on campus, also appreciates getting her leaves raked through "Rake and Run."
"I think it's a wonderful volunteer program, especially for college students that are interested in helping," she said. "It's always great to do things for other people."
Brown also thinks the reaction from other Greencastle residents benefitting from "Rake and Run" has been very positive.
"I know several people who are widows and can't hire anyone to do the work and when I told them about it, they were so happy and they couldn't believe it. [They asked me] ‘How much is this going to cost?'"
Brown does not believe the free service is very well known around Greencastle, but she thinks it's great that there are so many volunteers this year.
Civic Fellows president Kristin Jonason, a sophomore, agreed wholeheartedly with Brown.
"The volunteers always have a fun time during this event, so in the end everybody is happy," she said.
Jonason said having the opportunity to actively engage with other people whom she might not usually interact with is one of the best parts. Besides being a learning experience, Jonason thinks the project is also important for connecting with people, understanding their individual lives and making others happy by catering to their needs during a service opportunity.
Jonason feels that "Rake and Run" sets itself apart from other volunteer opportunities of its kind because it is unique to Civic Fellows.
"It is special because Civic Fellows plans, organizes and participates in the event while inviting other members of the DePauw community to volunteer with us," Jonason said.
Jonason added that "Rake and Run" differentiates from other volunteering events in Greencastle and on DePauw's campus because it allows them to actively participate in the Greencastle community by making a difference at individuals' homes.
"We are able to make an immediate difference in the community," she said.
Capshew agreed the main difference between "Rake and Run" and other opportunities on campus or in Greencastle is the direct service work they perform, as opposed to raising money in accordance to what the majority of the philanthropies here do.
"While it is important to raise money for non-profit organizations and services, sometimes it's easy for people to forget exactly why they are attending philanthropy events like Tigerstock, Bark-B-Q or Anchor Splash — all of which raise money for various organizations. With ‘Rake and Run,' we can see exactly how our service helps people," Capshew said.
Only a few suggestions were made to improve the service project in the future.
"We had a group of five people and were only provided with one rake, and we were not provided with materials for moving the leaves," Jones said. "It would have been helpful to have more materials."
Sophomore Collin Brady also had a suggestion for improvement.
"I would like to see this event grow for next year. More houses and more volunteers," Brady said, adding that he walked away from the event with a sense of accomplishment after helping those in need. "It was a great way to give back to the community and help out those who needed it."
Civic Fellows encourage all students to volunteer alongside them and join the organization at their outreach events.