About 550 first-year students fanned out across Kentuckiana Wednesday morning to serve others at nearly 30 community partner sites.
It was the 11th 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's organized by Bellarmine’s Center for Community Engagement.
“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,” said Dr. Elizabeth Byron, Director of Community
Engagement at Bellarmine.
Community partners included Catholic Charities of Louisville, Inc., The Ronald McDonald House, La Casita Center, Family Scholar House, Center for Women and Families, Yew Dell Gardens, The Conrad-Caldwell House Museum and the Dare to Care Food Bank.
Outfitted in matching Bellarmine shirts, students showed up to the community partner sites ready to do whatever was asked of them, including stuffing envelopes and sprucing up neglected areas.
At Catholic Charities of Louisville, about 30 students sorted donations for families in need who use the organization’s Migration and Refugee Services program.
Lauren Goldener, community engagement specialist for Catholic Charities, said the work itself was deeply appreciated and needed, but also valuable in a monetary sense. Catholic Charities has a matching grant that matches volunteer hours. She estimated
Catholic Charities would receive as much as $1,200 for the students’ time.
“I’m really thankful for these students being here today,” she said.
The group included the international exchange students studying at Bellarmine this fall. Christina Hofer, from Linz, the capital city of Upper Austria, is studying at Bellarmine for one semester and majoring in sports culture and event management. She
was glad to be doing work that serves families from abroad, seeking a better a life.
“It’s a good feeling,” she said.
She’s participated in Bellarmine’s Week of Welcome and has felt the warmth of the community.
“It’s a small campus, not big and overwhelming. It’s like a family,” she said.
Kevin Garruccio, a Biology major in the Pre-Vet program, was with a group assigned to improving the grounds and interior areas at Highlands Court, an affordable housing community for seniors and physically challenged residents near Bellarmine’s
He said he volunteered a lot in his hometown of Florence, Ky., and was glad to keep up the good work in college.
He’s enjoyed the sense of community most about his first week at Bellarmine.
“It’s a small school, everyone knows each other. I wanted that,” Kevin said.
Click here to see more pictures from the event.