Spending a Friday afternoon turning over dirt, planting pansies and mums and laying down 100 bags of mulch sounds like a chore to many, but for more than 20 OSU Institute of Technology students it was an opportunity.
The nearly two dozen volunteers from student organizations Phi Theta Kappa, Native American Student Association, Student Senate, and Orthotics and Prosthetics Club spent four and a half hours at the Okmulgee Baptist Village working on flower beds and landscaping projects around the assisted living center.
Bruce Force, Director of Student Life, said the project at Baptist Village is, hopefully, the first of many community service projects in Okmulgee.
“It’s one thing to say we want to do this, it’s another when we actually do it,” Force said. “We do so much in the classroom. This is education beyond the classroom. It’s still learning.”
Some academic programs and courses include community service hours as part of the curriculum such as the Aggreko program in the Heavy Equipment and Vehicle Institute or students enrolled in business courses.
Glenda Orosco’s financial accounting class headed up a canned food drive last semester and collected enough items to fill the bed of a pick-up truck.
The food was donated to the Court Appointed Special Advocate program, or CASA, a nonprofit organization that advocates for abused and neglected children in the court system.
“It helps develop a well-rounded student who appreciates the community,” Orosco said.
Force said he hopes more student groups get involved in future community service projects, as well as faculty and staff.
“Our goal is to schedule community service projects that not only benefit the community, but will also allow our faculty, staff and students a chance to get involved,” he said. “OSUIT is committed to this community and to preparing our students to be well trained, well prepared citizens.”
Force said the community service program doesn’t have a budget, so all he can provide is some basic manual labor for indoor and outdoor projects.
“We’re looking for opportunities to help,” he said. “It’s a way to give back to the community.”
At Baptist Village, Force said the residents made a point to come out and thank the students for the work they were doing.
“Some kids were grateful for the opportunity because they said they would just be sitting in their dorm room,” he said. “It’s good for the soul.”
For more information about volunteering or to suggest a service project, call the Office of Student Life at 918-293-4942 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.