However, I don't think that I'm too off the mark when I suggest that 98 percent of IUP students are probably snuggled up to their pillows on Saturday mornings and enjoying dreamland. (I have two twenty-year-old sophomores, so I also feel fairly informed on the habits of this particular species.)
But, this past Saturday, September 17, some 150 IUP students blew that stereotype. And it wasn't for cereal and cartoons, but to benefit community agencies in Indiana.
Last Saturday was the fall Into the Streets event, organized by IUP's Office of Service Learning. Students volunteered for this national day of service at seven sites in Indiana County. Students did everything from painting curbs to helping with the United Way demolition derby fund-raiser to cleaning up around Indiana Borough with borough employees.
The Into the Streets project is in its ninth year at IUP. It happens every fall and spring, and, in spring 2011, there were 300 students who volunteered for service at 13 different community sites. In fact, there were so many students interested in participating that the Office of Service Learning had to go back out to community agencies to ask for more volunteer opportunities. That makes me very proud of our students. The spring event is the bigger of the two, as there tend to be more service opportunities at that time of year, Service Learning officials tell me.
While I'm pleased that 150 students took part in the event this fall and I believe that number is noteworthy, it's really just a very small part of what our students do each year.
In 2009-2010, 8,752 students volunteered for some kind of community service. That is 58 percent of the IUP student body. And it wasn't just a one-shot deal for most students: Those IUP students performed 136,810 hours of community service during that academic year. (Totals are still being compiled for 2010-2011.)
So, that means that MORE THAN HALF of IUP students volunteered for their home community in a nine-month period, most in a sustained kind of way. Measured by the current national minimum wage, these work hours would be valued at $991,872.50. That's just short of A MILLION DOLLARS.
What did they do? Food drives; books for the Community Guidance Center; selling daffodils for the American Cancer Society; helping children learn to read better; cell-phone drives for women in domestic violence situations; being a "big heart" for children in the Big Hearts Little Hands program.
I got a call from the former director of Big Hearts Little Hands (formerly Big Brothers Big Sisters) not too long after I started at IUP. "I want to talk to you about your students," she started, and I braced myself. "Oh, no, what happened?" I asked, really not wanting to hear the answer.
"Without IUP students, this program couldn't exist," she said. "These students are wonderful. It's a big sacrifice to give up your free time when you are a student and to care about someone else's child, but they are amazing. I am proud of each and every one of them. Thank you."