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Sophomore Days of Service provide community volunteers

Debbie Behrends -
Alpha Phi Omega pledges (from left) Shana Haugh, Kara Hennefent and Shannon Schultz mopped the kitchen floor at Feed 'Em Soup in DeKalb during the first day of NIU's Sophomore Days of Service on Sunday, Feb. 9.
Debbie Behrends - Alpha Phi Omega pledges (from left) Shana Haugh, Kara Hennefent and Shannon Schultz mopped the kitchen floor at Feed 'Em Soup in DeKalb during the first day of NIU's Sophomore Days of Service on Sunday, Feb. 9.

DeKALB – At a time in their lives when they are developing purpose, Northern Illinois University sophomores are invited to take part in Sophomore Days of Service.

In its second year, the initiative of the Office of First- and Second-Year Experience encourages sophomores – and all other interested students – to sign up for one of nine volunteer opportunities around the community.

“This is a program we piloted a year ago as part of initiatives for second-year students,” office director Denise Rode said. “We realized that, although we provide a great deal of support for first-year students, it just wasn’t there for for sophomores.”

In its first year, the service days afforded sophomores four volunteer opportunities. Rode said that has been expanded to nine.

“What we’ve learned in our research on sophomore students is they are working on identity development, developing purpose, selecting and confirming a major and moving toward a career path,” Rode said. “We also see they have a desire to get more involved on the campus and in the community and develop leadership skills for college and beyond.”

Last year, Rode said volunteers went to Hope Haven, DeKalb’s homeless shelter; Campus Child Care Center; DeKalb County Rehab and Nursing Center; and the DeKalb Public Library. This year, in addition to those four venues, she is excited to send students to Feed ‘Em Soup on two Sundays, the Barb Food Mart, Heritage Woods of DeKalb and a senior Valentine’s Day activity at St. Mary’s in Sycamore.

Rode said about 40 sophomores signed up last year, and she’s hoping for more.

“Sophomores are our target audience, but we won’t turn away anyone,” she added.

A few of the 15 to 20 students working at Feed ‘Em Soup on Sunday signed up as part of fraternity service requirements.

Shana Haugh of Chicago, Kara Hennefent of Lake Villa and Shannon Schultz of Buffalo Grove mopped the kitchen during their shift to gain some volunteer hours as Alpha Phi Omega pledges.

“We’re getting some hours in today,” Haugh said. “It’s easy and close to campus.”

They said as pledges, they are required to volunteer for 12 hours a semester, but that requirement will increase to 20 hours when they become active members.

Lambda Sigma members Jim Gorman of St. Louis and Matt Brown of Crystal Lake coordinated the effort at Feed ‘Em Soup.

“I’ve been volunteering since I was in high school, so it’s pretty much second nature to me now,” Brown said. “It’s just part of the values I was raised with, that sense of responsibility to give back when you can.”

Laura Thompson of St. Charles said this is the first time she’s volunteered.

“We haven’t had a lot to do yet because so many people showed up,” she said.

Rode said sophomores seem eager to be involved in the community, “and we’re happy to facilitate that.”

Sophomore Days of Service

After volunteer at Feed ‘Em Soup on Sunday, several more opportunities await NIU volunteers.

• Thursday: Senior Center Valentine’s Day Activities, St. Mary’s Parish Hall, 244 Waterman St., Sycamore

• Saturday: Hope Haven, 1145 Rushmoor Drive, DeKalb

• Sunday: Feed ‘Em Soup, 122 S. First St., DeKalb

• Feb. 19: Campus Child Care, DeKalb

• Feb. 20: Heritage Woods of DeKalb, 2626 N. Annie Glidden Road, DeKalb.

• Feb. 22: DeKalb Public Library, 309 Oak St., DeKalb

• Feb. 25: DeKalb County Rehab and Nursing Center, 2600 N. Annie Glidden Road, DeKalb

• Feb. 27: Barb Food Mart, Huntley Middle School, 1515 S. Fourth St., DeKalb

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