Step Forward Day provides community service opportunities for MU students

Thursday, August 18, 2011 | 6:42 p.m. CDT; updated 6:57 p.m. CDT, Thursday, August 18, 2011

COLUMBIA — As MU was brimming with new students on Wednesday, Elizabeth Ambrose was volunteering to distribute Midnight BBQ pamphlets for the Missouri Students Association.

“It is a wonderful way to get involved,” said Ambrose, as she stood in the sun outside the University Bookstore. This is her second year as a volunteer.

MU offers lots of opportunities for freshmen and other new students to get involved, both on campus and in the community. One of those is Step Forward Day, which is scheduled for Saturday.  

Step Forward Day is a traditional one-day community service event that allows students to become more integrated into the community. This is the ninth year for Step Forward Day. By getting connected with volunteer opportunities with different non-profit organizations, MU students can get off campus and get some real-world experience in other parts of the city.

Step Forward Day is sponsored by the Center for Leadership Development and Community Involvement. Sixteen service agencies will take part in the event. Volunteers will be able to help out at the Humane Society of Central Missouri, sort and stock food at the Central Missouri Food Bank or even help clean up basements.

“The biggest thing is to help new students to get involved and get people to taste the opportunities of volunteering in community service before school starts,” said Bryan Goers of the Center for Student Involvement at MU. He anticipated more than 200 students will participate this year.

Every year, MU collaborates with different nonprofit organizations.

“We work with the Central Missouri Food Bank every year,” Goers said. “But this year, we have many new organizations.”

Pick Up America is among these new groups. It is the nation’s first contiguous coast-to-coast roadside litter cleanup. Four members of Pick Up America, all recent college graduates, are walking from Assateague Island in Virginia to the San Francisco Bay, crossing the entire country. Their aim is to spread the idea of a zero-waste America.

“In an interconnected world, there is no ‘away’ in ‘throw away.' Most of what we perceive as waste should be going to a future application,” said Davey Rogner, one of the founders of Pick Up America. “So much of what we send to the dump could be composted, reused or recycled. There is a severe inefficiency in our society.”

Step Forward Day will begin with registration at 8 a.m. at MU's Tiger Plaza. Students can pick their favorite assignments, have free breakfast and get a free T-shirt. Buses will take students to different agencies at about 9 a.m. The community service will finish about 2 p.m., and buses will bring volunteers back to Tiger Plaza.

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