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64 SHP Students Give Back to Community During Service Days

Every year the SHP Student Ambassadors coordinate a school-wide service weekend. Nearly 100 SHP faculty, staff and students give more than 300 hours of service to 8 organizations that serve the Columbia and Boone County communities. 

On Nov. 1 and 2, SHP students and faculty members came together to serve the greater Columbia area. On Friday, Nov. 1, 64 SHP volunteers were split between several different service sites: 

  • Operation School Bell 
  • Rainbow House 
  • The Bluffs Nursing Home 
  • Three separate Service for Independent Living (SIL) centers 
  • Cedar Creek Therapeutic Riding Center

Wendy Cortes, a graduate assistant with SHP, was the site leader for ‘Operation School Bell’ which is a program that collects new clothing items and personal hygiene products throughout the year to distribute to kids on certain days in September, October, and November. Cortes and a handful of SHP volunteers spent their time on site doing counts of clothing to help the organization see how much stock they would need for the upcoming year. When asked what it meant to be able to serve her community, Cortes described her experience as a learning opportunity. 

“I think as students sometimes we can feel isolated from the rest of the Columbia community so being involved and taking time out of our day to serve and see what Columbia offers to their community is so neat… I was able to learn about a service I had never heard of and see the great need many individuals have,” said Cortes.

Rainbow House is an emergency shelter for foster children in crisis. SHP volunteers for this site sanitized toys in the children’s playroom to help keep them healthy during this flu season

A group of about 20 students served at Cedar Creek Therapeutic Riding Center. Cedar Creek provides equestrian therapy to children and adults with physical, mental and emotional disabilities. The students cleared away weeds and  brush from the pasture and hillside on the property.

Volunteers also spent time at The Bluffs Nursing Home. The Bluffs is a senior living community that provides long-term nursing care, short-term rehabilitation services, hospice care, and a 16 bed Alzheimer’s special care unit. SHP students were able to serve here by playing games like cards or dominoes and putting together puzzles with the residents. Site leader Hunter Puckett, a student ambassador at SHP, believes that service days like this one are a unique and special experience. 

“While we might not see direct results of our service, cheering up just one person makes it worthwhile because joy is contagious,” said Puckett.

The service opportunities provided are a unique way for all types of students to get involved with the community. Aléja Bates, a Health Sciences major with SHP, was another student volunteering at The Bluffs Nursing Home. Of her experience, Bates said, “It was so cool to see how everyone is interested in serving others and working together no matter their career preference or emphasis areas.”

On Sat. Nov 2, the second day of service, SHP students hosted a Super Kids Camp. This camp is designed as a time parents can drop off their kids in the morning and use that free time however they want. 

“The camp is superhero themed where the kiddos are superheroes and they are each paired one-to-one with a volunteer who will be their sidekick for the morning,” said Victoria Trost, SHP Student Ambassador. The morning kicked off with an opening ceremony before the student-child pairs broke off into their superhero team for the rest of the morning. 

“The different stations were big group games, relays, snack/story, sensory and craft. They’re all superhero-themed activities,” said Trost. Student ambassadors organized the event and helped run the different stations. The morning was filled with engaging things for the kids to experience. 

This year, 23 superhero kids were at camp and 49 SHP student sidekicks volunteered. One sidekick, Mia Millard said, “I really enjoyed the camp and it makes me feel good that I was able to help brighten my buddy’s day.” 

To see more behind the scenes of SHP service days, check out these photo albums,