The U's Organizational Behavior class benefits Sioux Falls area charities

VERMILLION, S.D. -- It’s the season for giving but it’s also the season for learning as students from an undergraduate business class at The University of South Dakota completed self-designed projects to learn more about organizational behavior and theory while benefiting four charities in Sioux Falls, S.D., that tackle hunger, homelessness and safety.

The class, through University Center in Sioux Falls, S.D., raised hundreds of dollars for organizations such as Children’s Inn and The Banquet, a feeding ministry that serves hungry people in the community. One group of USD students also collected hundreds of items for a local food bank, and another team conducted an H1N1 awareness project distributing information pamphlets and hand sanitizer at three different locations.

“A project like this shows that our up and coming business people care about those in the community who are most in need,” stated Amy Verbos, Ph.D., assistant professor of management at the Beacom School of Business at USD. “Most students work full-time while going to school and have family obligations, yet they rose to the challenge and used great creativity in designing their projects.”

In addition to raising money and awareness, the projects also collected donations such as coats, hats and mittens for children in need. Some of the projects included designing T-shirts; partnering with local businesses, including Bosses Pizza and other organizations; and fundraising opportunities that had students utilizing their skills both in and out of the classroom.

“Our projects allowed us to put words into practice, which is not done in all classes,” said Edwin Zobel, a business management major from Mitchell, S.D., who led a team of students that designed and sold T-shirts. “It was a great way to learn about group dynamics and create a win-win situation with local non-profit organizations.” Zobel’s group raised more than $400 for The Banquet.

“I never realized there were so many women and children that don't have a safe place to call home,” added USD junior Sheila Mirth, of Sioux Falls. “It was very emotional for me to tour the facility and see the women and children.”

Mirth, who participated in a group project that raised $275 by partnering with Bosses Pizza, praised the project for opening her eyes to community needs. Her team’s presentation to classmates about what they learned from the project also won the highest marks and an additional $50 donation for Children’s Inn from Verbos.

“Of all the projects I have had in my previous classes, this project has been the most educational and successful in extending our in class work and helping the needy in our community,” admitted junior finance major Wycklyffe Mogondo, a native of Kenya currently residing in Sioux Falls, who led a group that raised $450, plus donations of coats, hats and mittens for Coats Drive for the Homeless Children.  “It’s outstanding to see fellow students sacrifice their time and efforts for the common good of the community. It was a privilege that we had a chance to do this project.”

The charities offered high marks to the students for a job well done. Wendy Giebink, education liaison for the McKinney-Vento Education Project at the Office of Indian & Homeless Education, said she was grateful for the students’ time and efforts. “You can never say that it can't be done,” she added. “Children walk-in here, their hands freezing, and they walk-out much more comfortable.”

For more information about this project, part of Organizational Behavior and Theory at USD, please contact Verbos at the Beacom School of Business at (605) 677-5540.