UWSP students come back and connect with community
By Heather McDonald
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) hit the ground running when they returned to campus last week, taking time out of the Labor Day weekend to help out the community around them.
“I’ve always enjoyed doing volunteer work, and as a freshman, I want to be involved as much as possible,” said Maddie Kinscher, Manitowa. “I’m new here, and it’s a good way to meet new people.”
Kinscher was referring to the Labor of Love program, which she and about 100 other UWSP students signed up to participate in just a couple of days after arriving on campus. Despite some drizzle and overcast weather Saturday, Sept. 2, the group met at DeBot Center for community work assignments and headed out across the town.
Kinscher and four others wound up at the Central Wisconsin Children’s Museum downtown, washing and disinfecting toys and performing general clean-up duties. Other groups washed fire trucks at Stevens Point Fire Department on Division Street, did neighborhood “yard work,” painted at Idea Center, worked at Salvation Army food pantry, organized mats and floor space at Five Rings Martial Arts, and socialized and helped seniors organize for the fall season at Willow Brooke and Brookdale senior living centers.
The program is voluntary, and students sign up without knowing what jobs they will be doing. In many cases, it doesn’t matter to them.
“It’s stuff that needs to get done, so why not have people who are willing to do anything to help?” said sophomore Sara Klapps of Appleton, site leader for the Children’s Museum group.
For Nathan Loeffler of Twin Lakes, the volunteer process on a smaller level like this event was new; he didn’t have much time to volunteer in high school because sports took up a lot of free time, he said.
“But I’m a hard worker, and I always help people when I can,” he said. He would like to be a conservation warden, and a couple of years ago volunteered with the conservation corps in Minnesota, helping out building kiosks and clearing trails in natural areas.
A group at the corner of Clark Street and East Avenue shared stories and received some motherly advice from Stevens Point District 3 Alder Cindy Nebel as they cleared weeds and combed dirt in a small patch of flowers and bushes as part of the Old Main Neighborhood Association assignment.
“I want things to be better for the students, and it’s a great opportunity,” Nebel said. “They’re so full of energy.”
The group of seven included sophomore site leader Jada Mach of Antigo, and freshmen Katelyn Herne, Ixonia, Jamie Kolb, Menomonee Falls, Megan Zagar, Fond du Lac, Baliee Timm, Fond du Lac, Emily Hviding, Land o; Lakes, Minn., and Sheena Derler, Kenosha.
Freshmen Veronica Moll of Madison and Sierra Krueger of Kiel also worked in the Children’s Museum wiping down cabinets and organizing the children’s kitchen area.
“I was happily surprised I got the Children’s Museum” Kiel said. “There’s so much going on here, so much color and even though it’s a gloomy day, we’re having fun.”
For Moll, it’s just as much about getting acclimated to new surroundings. She admitted it’s a bit of an adjustment from the hustle and bustle of Madison to a more relaxed and laid back air of Stevens Point.
“I wanted to get involved because I don’t know Stevens Point at all,” she said. “It’s definitely something new.”