STORY BY JESSICA LYNK
While some students spent their Drake Relays at Peggy’s tent or in the stadium watching world-class runners, other students spent their time giving back to others.
One event students gave their time at was the DU Blue Book Bash. The event, which started three years ago, started after the Relays Executive Board decided to do something different.
“That year as a Relays’ Executive Board we were really focusing on bringing in different aspects of Relays, not just focusing on the student side of things, but also bringing in the community and athletics,” Vice President of Student Activities Adam Graves said.
From 3:30 to 5 p.m. on April 21, kids from the community gathered in Upper Olmsted for a program to promote reading skills, which left them with a book.
Students could donate any book, which were collected in bins around campus. Then, the books were traded in for children’s books.
“When you give your textbook from last semester, you are giving a new book to a child,” junior Erin Andrus, co-chair of DU Blue Book Bash said.
This year, the event involved 60 students from local elementary schools and after school clubs such as the Boys and Girls Club. Forty student volunteers and more than 200 books were donated to the bash.
“I decided to volunteer because I work at the Boys and Girls Club and wanted to see my kids see campus,” junior Peggy Leisz said.
This event is unique in the fact that it brings in children to Relays’ events, which is not normally the case.
“I feel like Relays already includes the community, but I think this pulls it in a different way,” Relays co-chair Erin Griffin said. “Right now we are working with kids, and you might not see kids this little at the stadium watching the events because they might get bored.”
Another way students got involved in the community was with the Habitat for Humanity Build. Around 80 students met on April 18 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Old Main parking lot to build walls for houses around the community.
“It is also a different way to bring in the community because the walls that were built are going to go to a home in Des Moines and in the Drake community,” Griffin said.
“It is not like we built walls and they are going to go off to a different state. It is going to stay in Des Moines, so it is really personal to the Drake community.”
Habitat for Humanity came to Griffin last fall with the idea of doing a build during Relays.
The board almost decided to only do the Habitat Build, but then continued the book bash because of funding that was given to the event.
Griffin was nervous about taking on two charity events this year, with everything else happening over the week, but in the end they were both successful in her eyes.
“At first, I was hesitant that this was going to be too much,” Griffin said. “Can people dedicate that much time during Relays? But now we are here and both events have had plenty of volunteers at them.”
Those 150 student volunteers spent some of their Relays straying from traditional events and instead chose to give back to the Drake community.