While most students are occupied with adjusting to a new semester and campus life at OSU Institute of Technology, a dozen students chose to take time from their schedules and provide community service for Okmulgee residents.
United Way’s Day of Caring is a nationally recognized event that celebrates volunteerism by bringing together teams and organizations to assist with projects that specifically provide a positive impact to the nonprofit community.
Students gathered at the Okmulgee County Homeless Shelter Thrift Store, located in historic downtown Okmulgee, and repainted the exterior wall, giving a much-needed fresh look to the building.
Hailey Eatherly, a culinary student at OSUIT and member of the Future Chefs Association, is from Okmulgee and said she was blessed to be able to provide service to her hometown.
“Anything I can do to help highlight this town and improve it for the betterment of the community,” said Eatherly. “Having grown up in the housing addition across the street from OSUIT, I idolized this campus and feel proud to now be a student of this facility. Getting to represent OSUIT was very important to me.”
Brenda Brewer, executive director of the Okmulgee County Homeless Shelter, organized the event and praised the younger generations represented for their selflessness.
“We hear so much negativity when it comes to younger generations,” said Brewer. “But right here, it shows we are doing something right. These students didn’t have to come out here in the heat.”
“They are all so polite and willing to help, “she added, “This is a great group of kids.”
Brewer said that when the former thrift store was destroyed by fire a few years ago, it took some time to relocate. Now located at 222 E. 6th St., the former site of a popular furniture store, they are now open and running efficiently.
“I cannot express enough of the gratitude that this community comes together to help each other,” said Brewer.
Jess Winstead, also an OSUIT culinary student and member of FCA said her inspiration for community service came from her mother.
“Back home my mother helped out the Dallas Street Choir,” she said. “It was a choir for homeless people that loved to sing and just wanted to be a part of something. She has always helped others and when Chef Becca Johnston said they still needed volunteers I raised my hand without hesitation.”
Winstead said after the project was completed at the thrift store, she immediately went back to campus and signed up for FCA.
“Knowing that there are future opportunities like this, it will also help me with my career path,” said Winstead.