(Originally posted on The Sojourn’s website on September 2, 2016)
After a week of activities on Indiana Wesleyan University’s campus, more than 750 freshmen and transfer students went out into the community to help out Grant County schools, businesses and citizens.
Together, as a part of IWU’s New Student Orientation, the students participated in 96 Acts of Kindness in honor of the school’s 96th anniversary.
First year students arrived at IWU Aug. 27 for a week of activities and events to familiarize themselves with campus, peers and professors.
Acts included students delivering cookies to senior citizens at Colonial Oaks, painting at Grant County Rescue Mission and doing cleanup work at various churches.
“Every year we’ve added an act … it’s an opportunity for us to go out into the community in small groups,” Executive President Dr. Keith Newman said. “Many of (the organizations) need volunteers throughout the year, so this is a way to very quickly expose our first-time freshmen and transfer students to places that they might choose to volunteer the rest of the year.”
Along with students being able to connect with the community, it is also a chance for them to bond with each other.
“It’s a chance to do some continuing bonding that’s been going on all week long,” Newman said. “I think everybody wants to feel like they’re at home at school and that they’ve got friends, so this is a chance to build those relationships.”
Some students, including Vashti Neff (fr), helped reorganized a classroom at Allen Elementary School.
“We emptied out a really small storage room,” Neff said. “It’s been a lot of fun, we have a good group and I like organizing.”
Sara Verda (fr) moved around storage for Community School of the Arts in downtown Marion. An Illinois native, she has enjoyed being a part of NSO this week.
“I think what helped is that (I) made friends very quickly,” she said.
Newman said he wanted this day to be focused on serving others.
“Our vision as a university is to be a truly great university serving the world. It really is the redefinition of greatness, the world typically doesn’t define greatness by service,” Newman said. “We want to be out serving the community.”