About 600 first-year students fanned out across Kentuckiana Wednesday morning to serve others at 30 community partner sites.
It was the 10th straight year for the Knights in Action event which introduces students to Bellarmine’s longstanding tradition of community engagement and experiential learning.
The event falls on the last day of Week of Welcome and the day before classes officially start. It is supported by Bellarmine’s Center for Community Engagement.
“It’s all about getting these students out into the community, right when they start the Bellarmine experience,” said Dr. Elizabeth Byron, Associate Director of Community Engagement at Bellarmine. “We want them to get out into the area and realize there is a greater calling and purpose within the educational system and immediately start building relationships within the community.”
Community partners included The Center for Women and Families, Kentucky Refugee Ministries, La Casita Center, Food Literacy Project, Backside Learning Center, Maryhurst, Kentucky Science Center, Family Scholar House, Wellspring and the Louisville Nature Center.
Outfitted in matching Bellarmine shirts, students pulled weeds and picked up garbage in local parks, cleaned and painted facilities that serve area children and stocked food for needy families.
At the Passionist Earth & Spirit Center students were asked to pull Honeysuckle bushes, an invasive species, from the 27-acre campus. The plant takes space from native plants, which feed and house native creatures.
“I think it’s great Bellarmine emphasizes going out into the community and helping others,” said Chloe Collins of Racine, Ky., who is studying Biology. “I’m from a small town, it’s important to me because I know what a difference it makes.”
Tim Darst, associate director of earth literacy at the Passionist Center, who also teaches environmental classes at Bellarmine, said students removed more than 100 plants over 50 square yards.
“We really appreciate it,” Darst said. “We have 27 acres to keep up with, so we need all the help we can get. We definitely value this partnership.”
Jonathan Penaloza, a first-year student from Puerto la Cruz, Venezuela, who is majoring in Computer Science and Psychology, said Knights in Action was a great wrap up to Week of Welcome (WOW).
“This whole college experience has been pretty amazing,” he said. “The WOW team and Knights of Color have greeted me with open arms. It’s been great to get to know this place and the people I’ll be spending the next four years with.”