Volunteers help DeKalb residents winterize yards

By Andrea Azzo

NIU’s Student Involvement & Leadership Development (SILD) seeks volunteers to assist DeKalb residents in preparing their yards for winter.

Volunteers will participate in SILD’s Rake Across DeKalb event at 9 a.m. Oct. 29 in the Diversions Lounge of the Holmes Student Center. They will work for about three hours, said Becky Harlow, assistant director for community service and coordinator of the event. Volunteers need to register online by Oct.24.

Students who sign up can do so individually or in teams of up to eight people. Harlow said this annual event started because NIU students wanted to help the community.

“We put this together because of the desire of the students,” Harlow said. “They get a chance to have a service project that is fun and active, and they have direct contact with the people they’re helping.”

Harlow said SILD is in the process of informing DeKalb residents about this opportunity. SILD ran an article on NIUToday and went to churches to let people know that NIU students can help them, Harlow said. The event targets people who need service, like the elderly, disabled, sick and single-parent homes. Once the residents sign up, SILD puts their addresses on a list and gives them to the volunteers, Harlow said.

Forms are available for residents online and can be turned into the Campus Life Building.

Last year was the first time NIU hosted this event. Students from NIU Cares wanted do to something more because they had previously only helped DeKalb residents in the spring. Harlow said students felt good about helping people. One of the residents gave the volunteers cookies.

“It’s most gratifying when they have interaction with the people they’re helping,” Harlow said.

Jamie Smirz, DeKalb’s acting community service planner, helped contact residents for last year’s event. She said the residents thought it was fantastic and the students were great.

Junior teaching major Zain Khan volunteered for events in the past and may volunteer for Rake Across DeKalb. He said it isn’t time consuming and is for a good cause.

“It shows that the school cares not just about its students, but about the entire community in general,” Khan said.