Black Hills State University students are taking action and giving back to the community as a part of a service learning project. Students collected over $300 for United Way and collected over 400 food items for the Spearfish Food Pantry. Students participating include: front row, left to right, A.L. Redetzke, Edgemont; and Gaby Cruz, Cheyenne, Wyo. Back row, left to right, Amy Maier, Rapid City; Sara Stenberg, Mission; Rhiannon Patterson, Belle Fourche; Michelle Buchanan, Lead; Katie Buffington, Wright, Wyo.; Evan Bruce, Biddle, Mont.; Marcus Hagedorn, Spencer; Steve Barba, Sturgis; and Taylor Hagel, Rapid City.

Black Hills State University students are taking action and giving back to the community through service learning projects that are required in their courses.

Students from Dr. James Awbrey’s social problems and human services classes have been discussing the root causes of inequality and the social factors affecting the problem of homelessness. In the social problems classes, students were asked to learn about Karl Marx and his ideas on the causes of societal problems. Awbrey, assistant professor of social sciences, challenged the students to engage in a voluntary assignment to collect and redistribute their wealth in the form of canned goods or a donation of $10. In the human services class, the students were assigned to research homelessness and then donate $5 to United Way for food to assist this population in need. Awbrey designed these assignments so that students would not only learn about the nature of the problem but also see the cumulative effect of taking collective action.

There are over 140 students in Awbrey’s three classes and so far more that 90 percent of the students have participated. Students contributed over $300 directly to United Way, and designated their donation be allocated to the Spearfish Food Pantry. The funds will provide 3,000 pounds of food for members of the community. In addition to the cash donations, students collected over 500 food items for the Spearfish Food Pantry. Students also made cash donations of over $200 to buy supplies for Artemis House, a local domestic violence facility, and to help support the Red Shirt Table School activities for the Christmas season.

According to Awbrey, the students’ comments in their assigned papers were eye-opening and inspiring. One student said, “As a child who grew up in a single parent household, I suffered through many economic hardships. I think that any opportunity for me to give back is a way to help ‘pay it forward’ for the kindness and charity that was given to me as a child.”

“I am very proud of these BHSU students and I am moved by their willingness to give back,” Awbrey noted.