There was no shortage of activities for NIU students to participate in during the opening weekend’s Welcome Days on campus.
While many were leisure activities, some students took advantage of the opportunity to give back to the DeKalb community by participating in the second annual Saturday of Service hosted by NIU’s Student Involvement and Leadership Development (SILD) Community Service.
Under the direction of Assistant Director Destiny McDonald, SILD provided the group of student volunteers the opportunity to complete service work at either the Pay-it-Forward House in Sycamore or at the Feed’em Soup Community Project in downtown DeKalb.
“We do this because we are dedicated to the community and want to demonstrate our mission and values to the first-year students,” said Liz McAllister, graduate assistant for SILD Community Service and co-coordinator for the Saturday of Service event.
“Last year, the locations to participate in Saturday of Service were located mostly around campus, but this year, we wanted to expand more into the DeKalb community,” McAllister added.
The Pay-it-Forward House provides a supportive and caring home away from home for friends and family who are visiting someone who is receiving medical care in DeKalb County, and particularly at Kindred Care Hospital in Sycamore, at little to no cost.
Students who chose to volunteer at the Pay-it-Forward House helped by putting down mulch and performing other yard maintenance in the front and back lawns of the house. The outdoor area of the house provides a therapeutic atmosphere for people staying there.
The Feed’em Soup Community Project provides free meals in a typical restaurant-style setting to anyone who comes through the doors. There is no requirement to demonstrate need.
Feed’em Soup offers meals on Wednesdays free to all from 5 to 7 p.m. Customers can donate any amount they can afford. Feed’em Soup also holds fundraisers from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday by offering a low-cost dinner menu to patrons. All proceeds from the fundraiser nights help to keep Feed’em Soup up and running.
Students who volunteered at Feed’em Soup helped in a variety of ways, from food preparation for the community meal this upcoming Wednesday to setting tables and washing windows.
Sophomore biology major Cindy Gomez volunteered at Feed’em Soup.
“I came to Saturday of Service just because I wanted to volunteer. I enjoyed participating at Feed’em Soup because it was rewarding and informative,” Gomez said. “I’ll probably volunteer here again.”
Senior Luis Sandoval, who is double-majoring in business and information systems, also volunteered at Feed’em Soup.
“I really like to help out,” he said, “especially when it comes to helping those who might be less fortunate, because I’d like to think that if I was ever in that position then someone would be there for me as well.”