A Kansas University group has organized several events this week aimed at increasing student involvement in the larger Lawrence community.
"It's a week to get the KU campus more involved in community service, to give (students) different types of service to get involved in," said Maureen Seferovich, co-coordinator of Into the Streets Week. "Hopefully, they will stay involved and they will realize that they'd like to do that every week."
The KU Center for Community Outreach's third annual event begins Monday with a gardening project, GROW, at the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence.
Community service events such as a read-out with children, a sleep-out for the homeless and a 5K run/walk for Heartland Community Free Clinic dot the week's calendar.
Last year more than 500 students participated in the week's activities, though coordinators said "Into the Streets" publicity educated and inspired hundreds more.
The week brings community issues to the forefront, Seferovich said. Some of those issues include homelessness, the environment, illiteracy, hunger and others, addressed in 14 events through April 16.
Highlighting the week's activities is a sleep-out Friday. From 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. in Burcham Park, students and community members will hear a panel discussion on homelessness, listen to the band Sling and sleep under the stars. Sleepers' pledges will benefit Jubilee Cafe, which provides meals for the needy.
A new event will send people running into the streets. Saturday's 5K run/walk benefits Heartland Community Free Clinic. Registration begins at 8 a.m.
Also for the first year, Alternative Weekend Break, a group that volunteers for weekend projects in the area, is involved in Streets Week. Alternative Break coordinator Eric Snider said the week's activities are in accord with his organization's mission: to create a lifelong link between students and community service.
All it takes is a little outreach and awareness to get volunteers Street Week-wise, CCO coordinator Melissa Cline said. Once they understand community issues, many become lifelong volunteers.
"We try to do education and service mixed together so that they'll see why it's necessary to serve," Cline said.
Community members, as well as students, are encouraged to attend the week's events. For more information, contact the CCO at 864-4073 or go to www.ukans.edu/~cco.
--Staff writer Amber Stuever can be reached at 832-7165.