AWOL Serve and Learn engages freshmen in community service
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AWOL Serve and Learn engages freshmen in community service

The Alternative Week of Off-campus learning (AWOL) hosted its annual Serve and Learn event on Aug. 28 and 29 to introduce new freshmen to the community that surrounds USD.

Traditionally, Serve and Learn takes place on move-in week, allowing new participants to move in early. However, this year they moved the date back due to the pandemic.

On Friday evening, AWOL hosted a mixer to kick off Serve and Learn, Linze Cowman, AWOL president, said.

“We also hosted a student panel which included cite leaders, executive board members as well as some past Serve and Learners to answer questions the new freshman had,” Cowman said.

At the mixer, volunteers were introduced to each organization they would do service for on Saturday. AWOL advisor Kim Albracht said she wanted volunteers to be comfortable working for the organizations on Saturday.

“We also wanted to help them learn about who they would be helping and why it is important,” Albracht said.

To follow safety rules and regulations for COVID-19, AWOL limited the number of volunteers that participated. Volunteers were also separated into smaller groups to ensure social distancing.

Saturday included six hours of service at various community organizations located in Vermillion. Serve and Learn first met at the Vermillion Community Gardens located behind the United Church of Christ. Volunteers spent several hours there tending to the garden.

AWOL also visited the disability service and support organization Sesdac. At Sesdac, AWOL volunteers spent time painting sheds outside. Lastly, volunteers met at the Community Connections Center (CCC) downtown, where they assisted the Vermillion Food Pantry.

“We know that our community really needs us during this time and we want to help and make those connections for them and students,” Albracht said.

AWOL plans to continue doing events in the future. In previous years AWOL has traveled, but as of right now they will be limiting volunteer services to local community organizations and remote activities due to COVID-19.