They gave up sleeping in for working out, but for Baker University students, the eye-opening experience of volunteering at the United Way of Douglas County's "Day of Caring" was worth it.
This marks the third year for the event, which matches volunteers with United Way agencies for a one-day fall cleaning event.
They got their exercise by mowing grass, trimming bushes, pulling weeds and helping with household chores.
"We accomplished a lot," freshman Neely Sims, Overland Park, said. "The yard looks so much better now."
Sims is part of a First Year Experience class at Baker. Instructor Tony Brown requires students to help with community projects throughout the year.
"The experience is important to have," he said. "But when I proposed it in class, they were like, 'What?' but they jumped right in. It's important to stress projects like this, and it's important to be a good citizen."
Brown's students helped spruce up Headquarters Counseling Center, 1419 Mass., one of 34 United Way agencies that received extra attention yesterday.
"Without this, this would have taken months," Headquarters administrative assistant Steve Nash said, surveying the center's front yard.
"It wouldn't have been high on my list of priorities. We've been working on it since April, and now it's done until next year."
Cleanup crews also helped Haskell Indian Center interim director David Cade get ready for next spring. More than 20 volunteers plowed through the center's overgrown garden.
"We had such a strange season with the rain and cold weather in the middle of the summer that some people gave up," he said. "We picked what we could, retilled and we'll plant some fall crops."
Salvaged vegetables will be used in the center's food pantry, Cade said.
"We've had some rough times," he said. "And this helps get the community involved. A lot of people see us as a valuable resource but a lot don't know what we're doing here. The more people who get involved, the stronger our program will be."
Haskell Indian Center's services include Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, a food pantry for the hungry, Community Garden plots and educational programs.