A day of service for students

Kansas University freshman Aaron Cheung, Iola, left, and other volunteers help break up soil in the campus garden Saturday near 13th and Louisiana streets. About 200 students participated in the university’s annual student volunteer day. Other volunteers gave assistance to the Lawrence Arts Center, the Humane Society, Habitat for Humanity and Lawrence Public Library.

Whether it be washing off tables, shoveling dirt or picking up trash, Kansas University students were doing the grunt work to better their community Saturday morning.

Close to 200 KU students participated in this year’s service event through KU’s Center for Community Outreach. An annual event at the end of Hawk Week, the morning sends students throughout the community to do volunteer work.

And this year’s crop of volunteers were energized. Many of them arrived at the Kansas Union to sign up for their volunteer shifts before organizers got there.

“When we got here, we were just floored that so many people had gotten here already. It really speaks to how dedicated the KU students are. It’s awesome,” said Kellen Bolt, a co-director for the Center for Community Outreach.

Bolt wanted students to be introduced early in the school year to different organizations around Lawrence that need volunteers.

Among other tasks, students were weeding at the campus garden, playing with animals at the Humane Society, building a house at Habitat for Humanity, doing trail work at Hidden Valley Camp, helping seniors at Pioneer Ridge Retirement Community decide what items to donate to Goodwill and cleaning the ceramics room at the Lawrence Arts Center.

This year, the Center for Community Outreach expanded the event from six to 10 locations.

“Last year we had six sites, and we decided that wasn’t nearly enough,” Bolt said. “We decided to go big or go home.”

At the campus garden, Caitlin Young was raking dirt. As a freshman from Grand Junction, Colo., Young was also looking for ways to get involved in the community and meet new people. And she liked the concept of helping out in the garden.

“I thought it was really cool that it’s all organic and the food is donated. It’s good to help two things at once,” Young said.

KU senior Bailey Patton chose to volunteer at Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt., because she is a frequent visitor there. She spent much of the morning downstairs cleaning books.

“It is kind of a cool way to start off the semester, giving back to the community,” Patton said. “It’s a good precedent.”