Late April on any college campus typically means end of semester papers and finals just around the corner. For the past 20 years, for Northern State University (NSU) student-athletes, it also marks a day of service in our region. The tradition began as a day of giving from the NSU football team and quickly was adopted as an athletic department activity that partnered with United Way of Northeastern South Dakota (United Way). United Way handles the logistics of coordinating the service opportunities, the NSU coaches, staff, and student-athletes provide the muscle to get the jobs done.
Can you imagine being an 8-year-old kid and finding out the college athletes you watch on the court and look up to came by and scrubbed your floors, organized your closets, and cleaned your locker? Knowing your heroes care about you and are working to help you succeed means the world to these kids. Nearly two decades of support from the NSU athletes to our club members is a lot to be thankful for.
– Mike Herman, Director of the Boys and Girls Club of the Aberdeen Area
Since 2002, a total of 2,735 NSU student-athletes have worked on more than 219 projects with 18,630 hours of labor—which equates to over $200,000 worth of donated labor. “This goes beyond picking up a rake or shovel and getting a job done,” Executive Director of United Way Aaron Schultz said. “We ask our partner agencies to talk about their mission and how they make this region a better place to live, work, and go to school.”
This sentiment is echoed by NSU’s President Dr. Neal Schnoor. “Our Wolves student-athletes and athletic department are again excited to partner with the United Way of Northeastern South Dakota,” he said. “We look forward to giving back to our community, which supports us like no other, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
What’s even more valuable than all the incredible work the students accomplish is the chance for them to see our mission at work firsthand. These students will be leaders in the communities they settle in. For us, getting an opportunity to share our purpose and teach them why we do the work we do is priceless.
– Gina Karst, Director of Safe Harbor
Service projects go beyond the borders of Aberdeen. The communities of Ipswich, Frederick, Groton, and Britton have all held projects for Day of Champions. Seeing the communities that make up our region is a great experience for the young men and women, and many are treated to the small-town hospitality that is well known for this region. Often NSU student-athletes come home with plates full of brownies, cupcakes, and other baked goods that local folks are only too happy to share with the visiting workers. This year’s NSU Day of Champions event is scheduled for April 23. //