KATIE HIRV, KNIGHT WIRE MANAGER
Volunteering is a way that allows people to engage and connect with their community. However, COVID-19 has molded volunteering into a different shape.
“During the time we were sent home [in March], we had the KnightsCare challenge on social media, where each week there was a new challenge based around acts of kindness. When we got back to campus, some of the events have been blood drives, making masks for people who can’t afford to buy them and writing notes to people who are in quarantine,” Elizabeth Ricke, the Volunteer Action Center office coordinator, said.
According to the Wartburg College website, the Volunteer Action Center, or VAC, is a student-run organization that is committed to inspiring students to form a lasting bond with the communities in their lives, while learning and living out the value and importance of serving others. Their main focus is promoting volunteer opportunities on the Wartburg campus and within the Cedar Valley community.
“Within the campus, they’ve needed more volunteers, especially with delivering meals to students in quarantine. With the community, we haven’t been able to partner with some organizations we normally do, but we’ve been partnering with the Northeast Iowa Food Bank a lot more. We would volunteer to package food items. It’s all in small groups and socially distanced,” Ricke said.
The Wartburg College Service Trips organization has also recently announced that service opportunities will be available during the Tour Week break from April 28 through May 2. According to the Service Trips webpage, the trips are dedicated to providing opportunities that actively engage participants with communities through service, reflection and learning.
Eryn Perry, the Service Trips advisor liaison, shared that the trips are still in the planning stages.
“For this semester, we’ve been in the process of planning several regional service trips. These would be trips that wouldn’t go too far away, since they’re a shorter amount of time. We’ve been working with Ryan Callahan, head atheltic trainger and COVID-19 Action Team for the American Rivers Conference, with guidelines for how often we’re going to be [COVID] testing participants before they go on the trip and come back so we can be as safe as possible,” Perry said.
According to Perry, the groups are looking to take three to four trips across the Midwest. Some places of service include the Food Bank of Iowa, Caring Hands, Operation Breakthrough in Kansas City and more.
“I think it’s more rewarding now than it was before because you’re seeing peoples’ needs and how thankful they are. You have a team or group that are just as willing to help people, which is super uplifting. Volunteering has definitely changed, but it’s been eye-opening,” Ricke said.
For students who have participated in volunteering since returning to campus, they have discovered how rewarding volunteering and service can be in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Perry.
“Service Trips have been my favorite part of Wartburg. They were really life-changing. Once you’re there serving, you could be anywhere in the world and you’re so focused on that one spot. I’d encourage students who have gone on service trips before and students who have never gone to go,” Perry said.
Students interested in volunteering with the Volunteer Action Center can check The Juice for current volunteer opportunities. For additional information regarding upcoming Service Trips opportunities, students can contact the Service Trips executive team at firstname.lastname@example.org.