By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Due to the coronavirus pandemic, St. Ambrose University had cancelled its annual Bee the Difference Day last fall out of concern for the safety of students and neighbors. Plans to hold the cleanup April 11 were postponed because of significant rainfall the day before.
Finally, April 18 was picture perfect for the St. Ambrose University students to volunteer three hours to help clean up the neighborhood around the university.
The Student Government Association (SGA) sponsored the all-volunteer cleanup, said Carson Wendhausen, sophomore class senator. About 275 students volunteered. Volunteerism was down a bit from the usual fall cleanup but SGA had enough volunteers to do the work.
At the beginning of the school year, St. Ambrose hosts the Urban Plunge volunteer event for incoming and transfer students. Then each fall SGA offers leaf-raking service around the university area. When the student government decided to do a spring cleanup, members contacted the neighbors on their phone and email lists to see if they still needed help with yard work. Wendhausen said the students would be willing to do whatever the neighbors needed this spring.
Some of the work consisted of raking leaves, pulling weeds, trimming bushes, picking up sticks and preparing flowerbeds. Students met at the university where they received turquoise Bee the Difference shirts, donned their masks and headed out by foot or car to areas around the school.
The St. Ambrose men’s soccer team cleaned up Jan Nelson’s yard front and back. “It is great to see them help out in the neighborhood,” she said, referring to all of the volunteers. “They have done this for years. They are being good neighbors.”
One group of young women arrived at their assigned address to find a note taped to the door with instructions and a diagram for their duties. As they walked to the back deck, the homeowner had bottles of water, hand sanitizer, fruit snacks, lollipops and yard waste bags ready for them.
The group started out in the back yard and worked their way forward. Some student government members drove to the various locations to see whether supplies were needed and to drop off additional yard waste bags for the volunteers.
Freshman Izabella Zadora said she chose to volunteer to help the area’s neighbors. Sophomore Careonna Pitchford said she helped her freshman year in the fall and enjoyed it. “It’s a time for bonding with others too.” She said participating in events such as the cleanups shows the community that St. Ambrose is around to help and “bee good neighbors.”