USD students host Halloween costume drive for area children

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Fourteen students from The University of South Dakota hosted a Halloween costume drive during the month of October. From Oct. 6 through Oct. 17, several costumes were collected on campus and at the United Church of Christ. On Oct. 20, the costumes were distributed to children in need during the Vermillion Welcome Table’s dinner at First United Methodist Church.

More than 55 children had an opportunity to select a new or used costume for Halloween through the costume drive. Candy, party favors and safety glow sticks for trick-or-treating were also purchased through a service-learning grant for the project. The service-learning project was a component of the students' First-Year Experience (FYE) seminar, which is one of USD's four signature programs. The Halloween costume drive was chosen for its connection to the class theme, which focuses on the supernatural.

"The Halloween costume drive made me feel like I was part of the USD and Vermillion community," said Jessica Muilenburg, a USD student from Yankton, S.D. "I was giving something back and helping others, which is always a great feeling."

USD student Ren Morris of Aberdeen, S.D. added, "the experience, to me, was extremely gratifying. I felt like I was helping so many people when the kids would walk out the door grinning ear to ear."

This project was supported in part through a grant awarded to the Center for Academic Engagement at from Learn and Serve America through the Midwest Consortium for Service-Learning in Higher Education and the Corporation for National & Community Service.

In addition to Morris and Muilenburg, USD students coordinating the Halloween costume drive included Hannah Korcuska of Vermillion; Taylor Haugan, Sara Palen and Jamie Peck of Sioux Falls, S.D.; Erin Siversten of Aberdeen, S.D.; Carolyn Soulek of Delmont, S.D.; Levi Parker of Lennox, S.D.; Emily Lundgren of Yankton, S.D.; Tommy Bottger and Brian Reed of Elk Point, S.D.; Lisa Weber of Pierre, S.D.; and Johnny Westhoff of Mitchell, S.D. Courtney Huse Wika, Ph.D., FYE instructor, incorporated the service-learning project into the course.