USD students participate in community Welcome Table event

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Sixteen students from The University of South Dakota recently served more than 180 members of the community at the Vermillion Welcome Table in honor of the Sept. 11 National Day of Service. Organized by the Center for Academic Engagement (CAE), this event included programming about disaster preparedness and fire and flood safety.

The Welcome Table event closed with a reflection led by AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America member Tina Shantz, who is working in the CAE office under a grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service. The students enjoyed their experience at the Welcome Table and believed it is a necessary organization for the Vermillion community. Many also expressed an interest in returning to help serve on other occasions.

"The Welcome Table brings people together in a way you get no where else in Vermillion. It is an opportunity to sit down with old friends while making new ones. All communities should have a Welcome Table," said Jonathan Hart, a graduate student from South Weymouth, Mass. The Welcome Table is just one of the CAE’s annual alternative events of service for USD students to help connect classroom learning with community participation.

After serving its first free community supper to less than 40 in 2001, the Welcome Table has served 356 meals to more than one thousand area residents.

In addition to Hart, USD students participating in the Welcome Table event included Ali Hauswald of Sioux Center, Iowa; Kristi Kocer of Tabor, S.D.; Anthoney Klunder of Black Hawk, S.D.; Samantha Gubbels and Kevin Kruse of Harlan, Iowa; Darren Jilek of Mellette, S.D.; Allison Struck, Lucas Rasmussen and Daniel Slade all of Yankton, S.D.; Tim Karels and Matland Peterson of Sioux Falls, S.D.; Kris Reed of Aberdeen, S.D.; Adam Binneboese of Hinton, Iowa; Jane Gullickson of Brandon, S.D.; and Anne Grady of Le Mars, Iowa.