Feb. 17, 2011
Morningside College junior Tony Wiley from Diagonal, Iowa, paints a room in the Midtown Family Community Center in Sioux City as part of the college’s “Into the Streets” community service day.
Morningside College students have discovered that learning experiences are not necessarily confined to classrooms on campus. Hundreds of Morningside students literally take to the streets every year in Sioux City and surrounding cities for service learning and community service projects that benefit the communities and help broaden the students’ educational opportunities.
“Service learning and community service build connections between classroom learning and real world situations and add a deeper understanding to the theory and instruction offered in our classes,” said Morningside President John Reynders. “Our students gain valuable work experience, explore community issues and develop a sense of civic responsibility.”
Morningside’s annual “Into the Streets” is one example. Coordinated by the Morningside College Chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership honor society, the campuswide event gives students an opportunity to leave their classrooms and textbooks behind for a morning of community service. Last fall, more than 600 Morningside students – half of the college’s total undergraduate enrollment – volunteered for service work at approximately 35 Sioux City area nonprofit agencies that included Big Brothers Big Sisters, Midtown Family Community Center, Sioux City Public Library, Girls Inc., Siouxland Humane Society and others. Students were on site at the various agencies performing a variety of tasks: cleaning, painting, moving files, doing yard work, reading to children.
Morningside student Kylie Helmink of Fairbury, Neb., was one of the coordinators for the Nov. 2, 2010, edition of “Into the Streets” and involved other student organizations across the campus in the daunting task of organizing, coordinating and scheduling hundreds of volunteers for all the participating agencies.
“Into the Streets gets Morningside students more involved with the community and builds an even stronger relationship between the college and the Sioux City area,” said Helmink. “And as a business administration major, I got hands-on experience in team building and problem solving that will be applicable to any job I get after graduation.”
Not all service projects at Morningside College involve hundreds of students at one time. Many students also choose to participate in community service on their own or through student organizations such as fraternities, sororities, campus ministries or athletics.
Over the past three years, members of the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity at Morningside have raised thousands of dollars for the American Breast Cancer Foundation. Fraternity members took turns standing on a wooden box in front of the Olsen Student Center during Morningside’s homecoming week and solicited passersby for cash donations. For as long as140 continuous hours outdoors, in rain and shine, the fraternity brothers maintained their fundraising vigil.
Led by the Rev. Kathy Martin, Morningside chaplain and director of church relations, students have participated in mission trips to areas of the United States recovering from weather-related disasters. Morningside students have made six trips to the Gulf Coast after 2005’s Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and assisted with ongoing reconstruction efforts in Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana. Students also traveled to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in the summer and fall of 2008 to help with flood recovery efforts.
“I think it’s to their credit that so many of our students take time during their academic breaks – when they could be home with family and friends – to help communities and individuals who are struggling with the aftermath of natural disasters.” Martin said.
Back in 2003, Morningside College established a service learning component to its curriculum that directly linked credit-bearing service projects with objectives and goals in specific courses that students must complete to graduate. The college offered more than 20 of these service learning courses during the 2010-2011 academic year in a wide range of academic disciplines that included art, biology, business, psychology, mass communications, nursing, computer science and physics.