Story by Emily Gregor
Photos courtesy of Hannah Risinger and Lucas Mueller
Students at Drake University are provided with opportunities from professional fraternities, various clubs and organizations, including countless opportunities to volunteer and give back to their community.
Junior Aly Schmidt wanted to make a difference, so five years ago she started her own clothing drive called “Spread the Warmth” which runs during the holiday season.
“Basically I collect new socks and new gently used hats, gloves, scarves,” Schmidt said.
Initially, she collected about 300 items her first year, and the second year the number tripled to reach over 1,000. This year, the drive successfully collected over 3,300 items.
Schmidt enjoys volunteering with other organizations including Alpha Phi and through her internship at the American Lung Association of Iowa.
“I absolutely love my internship at ALA,” Schmidt said. “The people who work there are wonderful and I’ve learned a ton.”
When it comes to volunteering, Schmidt sees nothing but the benefits.
“I know it sounds cheesy, but I just like knowing that I helped make someone’s life easier or put a smile on their face,” Schmidt said.
Sophomore Anna Chott has experienced the advantages of volunteering as well, especially while serving as the fundraising chair of Drake’s Habitat for Humanity club. Habitat for Humanity builds houses for people and families who wouldn’t be able to own a home otherwise, funding the houses through donations and volunteers.
“When you volunteer with Habitat for Humanity in the Drake neighborhood you get to meet people from different backgrounds,” Chott said. “It’s very interesting to hear their stories.”
Volunteering can be challenging to fit into a busy schedule, but there are strategies to make it doable even for the busiest student at Drake.
“Don’t be afraid to ask someone if they need help, even if they don’t have it posted,” Schmidt said.
For Chott, simplifying involvement is her secret to success.
“Make volunteering a priority,” Chott said. “I try not to overcommit myself so when a Habitat build day comes up or another club needs volunteers, I don’t have a million other commitments.”