Chicago-Tribune | Aurora University students go out into community to help others

As part of Aurora University’s seventh Fall Morning of Service, over 120 students and employees fanned out around Fox Valley lending a hand to 12 different local non-profit groups.

Held twice a year, the event is sponsored by the university’s Wackerlin Center for Faith and Action.

Now serving as the student coordinator for the event, Aurora University senior Andrew Spellman said when he first came to the university four years ago, he volunteered at the local nonprofit Rebuilding Together Aurora through the program.

In this fall’s service program, volunteers returned to Rebuilding Together Aurora and helped paint the outside of the home of a Vietnam veteran.

“AU’s mission statement is to find what matters and build your life around it,” Spellman said. “As a freshman, I thought that was kind of corny, but after four years I found out what matters and I am building my life around it.”

Volunteers also helped out at Hesed House, where the crew vacuumed out large vans and cleaned up the grounds surrounding the facility, Spellman added.

After helping clean up, volunteers started an impromptu game of hopscotch with some of the children there, Aurora University freshman Marissa Sanchez said.

Two groups of volunteers assisted the Fox Valley Park District. One group put away the deck items including tables, chairs, and canopies at Splash Country Aquatics while others put in native plantings at the Fox Valley Park District’s Church Road Park.

Some of the native plants had been accidentally mowed down, Sanchez said.

Sanchez, who commutes to Aurora University from her home in Hinckley, said working on the morning of service made her aware of the community around the university.

“I have met a lot of great people who want to help others,” she added.

Spellman said volunteers at Wayside Cross built shelves and volunteers at SciTech Hands On Museum helped out at the different stations.

Volunteers also put fliers on doors for World Relief, the organization that provides services to refugees and immigrants living in DuPage and Kane counties.

The Wackerlin Center for Faith and Action was founded more than 10 years ago through a gift from Aurora College alumna and lifelong university benefactor Helena Wackerlin.

“In part, our Morning of Service program helps students fulfill their wishes to give back to the community. By exposing them to different needs in the Fox River Valley, we really hope they will be inspired to volunteer at other times of the year as well as after graduation,” Barb Calvert, Aurora University’s director of programming at the Wackerlin Center, said.

It’s a wonderful introduction to the power of community partnerships, too, she added.

“The students are exposed to so many different needs in the community, making it a great learning experience,” she said. “For some, it can even be life changing.”

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