Is Buenafication Day service truly important for the Storm Lake community?

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Meghan Harmening | Opinion Editor

Buenafication Day 2014 was the second time I participated in an all-day service event here at Buena Vista University (BVU). Each year that I have been involved with the service opportunities, a simple question has popped into my mind: Do these service opportunities really help the Storm Lake community?

Up until now I haven’t been able to figure this out. Of course, some of the service events don’t seem to be particularly helpful such as BINGO at the senior center or reading books to children at the elementary school. Don’t get me wrong, these things can be important, but shouldn’t the manpower of one thousand volunteers be put to better use, by doing things that take much more time and extra volunteers?

Buenafication Day is something I take great pride in because our university puts in so much emphasis on helping others. However, it seems that some – not all – of the morning service opportunities are put in place to make it possible for more people to volunteer. Now this might not be a bad thing. But if students are taking the whole day off to volunteer, why not use their enthusiasm for service to do bigger and better things?

By no means am I criticizing the work the Buenafication Day committee did – they work extremely hard pulling together a day that goes smoothly for some one thousand students, faculty, and staff.

My suggestions are simple. First, merely expanding the scope of the volunteer opportunities to include more labor intensive jobs or opportunities in other surrounding communities such as Alta, Aurelia, and Fonda. Another idea would be to have a year-round program that divides our 800 students into groups and sends each group out one day a year, with one group going per week throughout the school year (still allowing students to miss one day of class during service). When we do service, year round, we are able to really hit the high points of service such as shoveling snow or raking leaves.

My last suggestion relates to how my Buenafication Day experience was this year. Of course it has got to be a ton of work to coordinate so many different service sites and find service for over one thousand volunteers. This year, my service site seemed to be very uncoordinated. There were two main people telling us where to go and what to do. Our group was big, so we split up and got the work done. However, after about 45 minutes of being at the service site, one of them told us we could leave as they did not have any more work for us to do. Upon half of our group’s departure, the other half of the group was very confused as to why we were leaving because they were still working. To the group leaving, it looked like they were finishing up. However, that was not the case and the second half was left at the service site to finish up their project. It seemed this could have been avoided by more communication even among the site leaders.

Again, I truly think the Buenafication Day committee does a great job pulling together a whole day of service for our committee. However, despite it being a long lasting tradition for 101 years, it is important to consider that this day of service could be improved to help benefit our community even more.

Photo by Tyson Domingo