By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — More than 500 freshmen, along with 30 peer assistants and 35 faculty and staff members at St. Ambrose University, hit the streets Aug. 21 performing service for various Quad-City organizations.
Kaitlin Depuydt, director of service and social justice in the campus ministry office, coordinated the Urban Plunge. This was the 11th year for the event. The first year started small with three sites and 40 students participating, she said. Now all freshmen at the university are involved in providing service to more than 20 sites each year.
“St. Ambrose is dedicated to service and social justice, and our mission states that we enable our students ‘to enrich their own lives and the lives of others,’” Depuydt said. “Urban Plunge provides an opportunity to serve in the community during Welcome Week, helping introduce the students to some of the community agencies in the Quad Cities while they get to know their classmates.”
Wearing matching turquoise shirts with “Class of 2021” printed on the back, the students headed on foot or by bus to their sites. Depuydt said 25 sites were planned, but rain that morning led to cancellation of some outdoor projects. Representatives of some sites found indoor projects for the students. In the end, 22 sites were on the receiving end of service.
All Saints Catholic School in Davenport was one site. Principal Jeanne Von Feldt greeted the students before heading off to a school in-service. “It was wonderful to have them helping us,” she said. The students helped the custodial staff of Jeff Sebille and Linda Housby by finishing off some projects days before the school year was to begin.
The St. Ambrose students collapsed cardboard boxes from new computers and other items and hauled them to a recycling dumpster. They vacuumed carpets, washed windows and desks, cleaned tables and walls in the cafeteria, set up tables for the Unpack Your Backpack night and set out free clothing for families to pick up. They also hauled old computers, metal carts and more items to a metal recycling dumpster provided by Del’s Metal in Rock Island, Ill. “They donate their dumpsters; any money made from this scrap metal goes back to All Saints,” Von Feldt said. “We really appreciate their continued support.”
Depuydt said many of the students returned to campus tired, hungry and wanting to continue serving at their Urban Plunge site throughout their time at St. Ambrose.