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USD AWOL students volunteer at Ronald McDonald House, Goodwill Shoe & Mitten Party

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Six students from the University of South Dakota travelled to Sioux City, Iowa on Dec. 6 to work with the Ronald McDonald House and volunteer at the 72nd annual Goodwill Shoe & Mitten Party.

The students assisted in various volunteer projects with the Ronald McDonald House, which provides a “home-away-from-home” for families of children (ages 21 and younger) receiving medical care in Siouxland. The Goodwill Shoe & Mitten Party, sponsored by Goodwill of the Great Plains, provides children in need with the opportunity to pick out new shoes, mittens and socks.

Through the Alternative Week of Off-campus Learning (AWOL) program, USD students learned about issues of poverty in the Siouxland area. AWOL designs Alternative Weekend experiences to provide students with short-term service-learning opportunities that focus on important local and regional issues. Each month a different Alternative Weekend takes place, providing an outlet for students to explore social issues relevant to the region and build a closer connection with the local community. Like other AWOL events, Alternative Weekends are entirely student-led. Students participating were Josie Flatgard of Arlington, S.D.; Shane Hansen of Hot Springs, S.D.; Emily Chapa of Ellsworth, Minn.; Gretchen McLaughlin of Tea, S.D.; and the site leaders for the event were Mariah Larson of Vermillion, S.D.; and Allison Reuland of White Lake, S.D.


Housed in the Center for Academic Engagement and Global Engagement, AWOL (Alternative Week of Off-Campus Learning) offers students the opportunity to combine community service with education during academic breaks. Prior to departure, students participate in six weeks of educational training. By utilizing experiences and education, AWOL enables students to become active citizens whose community becomes a priority in their everyday life and provides them with avenues for continued community involvement and learning.


USD’s Center for Academic & Global Engagement (CAGE) gives students the chance to gain real-world experience and knowledge and connect with their community and the larger world. CAGE offers academically based opportunities that create skills employers and graduate schools seek. Among them: off-campus service-learning programs, studying abroad, student exchange, undergraduate research and nationally competitive awards and fellowships. CAGE also provides support to international students with cultural and academic adjustments as well as immigration concerns.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

This material is available in an alternate format upon request. Please contact University Relations at 605-677-5759. If you are a person with a disability and need a special accommodation to fully participate in any university activity or event, please contact Disability Services at 605-677-6389 as soon as possible, but no later than 48 hours before the event, so that appropriate arrangements may be made.


Hanna DeLange
USD News