Helping Out


#GivingTuesday … and Every Day

Pointers lead by example through UWSP’s 125K Service Challenge

Jeanne Nagle | December 3, 2019 | Helping Out

As the Pillsbury Doughboy once famously extolled, nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven. Imagine, then, the message of caring and kindness that 4,209 individually prepared apple pies are capable of sending out into the universe.

The ready-to-bake pies in question were assembled over the course of two full days by family members of students at Divine Savior Catholic School in Kiel. Among those pitching in the weekend of October 4-5 was Katie Schad Daane ’04, who showed up to support her daughters’ school. In true Pointer spirit, Daane also chose to double-down on her service’s impact by logging her 10 volunteer pie hours—as well as 125 cumulative hours served by the English teacher and her students at Mt. Holyoke’s St. Lawrence Seminary High School—as part of UWSP’s 125K Service Challenge.

Instituted as part of the university’s 125th anniversary in 2019, the Challenge asks Pointer family and friends to record the number of hours they volunteer, with a goal of reaching 125,000 by year’s end. Opportunities to record service remain open until 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31—and would be a natural fit for any Pointer participating in #GivingTuesday activities on Dec. 3.

The sheer variety of service tasks logged by 125K Challengers has been as captivating as it is heartening. Helping with beautification and cleanup projects, mentoring youth, serving on community and charity boards, caring for the sick and elderly, serving a faith community and assisting with fundraising projects were among the top ways Pointer family and friends have volunteered in 2019. Other individualized service opportunities logged as part of the challenge have included:

  • preparing taxes for low income families, the elderly and the disabled;
  • answering phones for the 50th anniversary World’s Greatest Trivia;
  • sorting and purchasing reading materials for the “Books on the Bus” literacy program in Weston;
  • curating an exhibit on racers and racing for the Chippewa Valley Museum;
  • serving as an honor guard member at a military funeral;
  • being a “cat advocate” at the local Humane Society;
  • building and maintaining mountain bike trails at a county park;
  • acting as a judge at a Future Farmers of America district speaking event;
  • editing and updating fundraising materials;
  • conducting mock interviews for a career readiness class;
  • sorting donations for a thrift shop sale;
  • staffing a photo booth at the Playhouse Theatre;
  • organizing and cleaning a community member’s home; and
  • serving as depot staff during the National Railroad Museum’s Great Pumpkin ride in Green Bay.

Several volunteers have reported giving their time to address the issue of hunger. Some, like Robyn-Kristine Griffith Ireland ’95, served at a local community meal program in Wisconsin Rapids.

“I waited tables at the Neighborhood Table,” reported Ireland. “Usually over 100 people show up. I also talk with the guests, as this is meant not only to feed them but to also make them feel they are not alone.”

Ellen Rohde Cerney ’83 delivered Meals on Wheels through the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Central Wisconsin. “I have delivered meals once a month for the past 8 months,” posted Cerney, who also logged several hours sewing “memory bears” for hospice patients and their families. “I look forward to seeing [meal] recipients each time, and my employer supports the volunteering hours by allowing me to do it during the workday.”

Other volunteers have helped fill the shelves of local food pantries. UWSP student Kaitlyn Schulz worked with Feeding America-Eastern Wisconsin, “pushing the shopping carts for those who are not physically able.” Representing the student health professions organization Sigma Mu Tau, Michelle Belohlavek Shulfer ’89 logged one thousand-plus hours on behalf of the

“500 volunteers from UWSP and the community” who packed meal boxes during a two-day event to benefit the international nonprofit Feed My Starving Children.

“A total of 116,640 meals were packed,” notes Shulfer, “which will feed 319 children for a year.”

Sigma Mu Tau was not the only UWSP-affiliated group to log hours during the 125K Service Challenge. Pointers who took part in Day of Service events, which are hosted by various Alumni Association chapters, have spent time performing green-trail, dog-park and farm cleanup duties; prepared and planted gardens; packed meals; and restocked a food pantry. (On Dec. 14, the Phoenix Alumni Association chapter is hosting a Day of Service event wherein alums will be wrapping holiday gifts for those affected by domestic abuse.)

UWSP Athletics has shown the department has got “service game” by tracking student-athlete volunteer hours through the Helper Helper app and management platform. UWSP marketing specialist Brittany Kaminski has noted that co-ed wrestling, women's basketball, co-ed swimming and diving, women's hockey and track and field student-athletes have logged the most service hours this year using the app. Meanwhile, Assistant Coach Dan Vanderpane logged nearly 170 hours of volunteer service on behalf of Pointer Football. Among the larger turnouts for the team involved 36 players who helped set up at the Portage County Cultural Festival venue in May. Women’s Hockey also got in on the Cultural Festival action, sending 11 players to help with “making puppets that represented many different areas around the world.”

As the holidays approach, a handful of Challengers have already logged hours spent as Red Kettle bell ringers for the Salvation Army.

Obviously, the compulsion to give back and serve others is a major motivating factor for all Pointers, as several 125K Challenge participants have noted. But Ray Oswald ’97 has submitted a sentiment that could very well apply to all UWSP volunteers. Oswald, who has logged hours playing piano for nursing home residents during their lunch hour, writes that in volunteering his time to benefit others, he gets as good as he gives.

“They loved the music and attention,” wrote Oswald of his nursing care audience, “and it felt great for me, too!”

Click here to log volunteer hours—served during #GivingTuesday and beyond, through December 31—toward UWSP’s 125K Service Challenge.

P.S. If you want to make a gift in honor of #GivingTuesday, you can do that online here.


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