First-year student Nick Bantz braved the weather on Saturday morning to give his time to the Indianapolis community as part of Bulldogs Into the Streets, Butler’s annual day of service.
Bantz and his fellow volunteers were assigned to the MLK Community Center just a few minutes from campus. The center serves youth, families, and seniors in the neighboring community by providing a variety of programming, including homework assistance, leadership development, grief counseling, and job training. The volunteers were busy organizing donated winter coats, painting walls, decorating windows, and taking down a broken book shelf.
Bantz, a chemistry and pre-med major from Muncie, Indiana, wanted to participate in BITS after learning more about Indianapolis during another program he was a part of during Welcome Week.
“I participated in the Ambassadors of Change pre-orientation program and I learned about all of the social issues in the Indianapolis community,” he said. “It really inspired me to give back. I also got to meet a lot of new people.”
Last year was the first time that the program was open to all volunteers, including new and returning students, faculty, staff, alumni, and members of the Butler community. The numbers are already growing from last year, with over 1,200 volunteers giving their time to 50 sites around Indianapolis and the surrounding areas.
Brighid Smith is the Public Relations Director for BITS this year. She has seen the benefits of expanding the program firsthand through her past experience as a volunteer.
“Ever since last year we opened it up to everyone instead of just first-year students and I think it has been a really good opportunity to get to know the Indianapolis community and for first-year students to interact with upperclassmen,” she said. “It’s a really nice conclusion to Welcome Week.”
Although a few outdoor activities were canceled due to heavy rain, there was plenty of work to do indoors all around the city. Some groups were busy painting and cutting cardboard for animals at the Indianapolis Zoo. Other groups went to the Ronald McDonald House to help clean and organize their storage space. One group stayed on campus and packaged around 20,000 servings of food for the Million Meal Movement.
Smith said she has enjoyed her participation in BITS both as a volunteer and a leader. She believes it is a great way for first-year students to get involved on campus and in the community.
“Even if you wake up in the morning and it’s not the first thing you want to do, it’s so rewarding,” she said. “I think it’s a great experience for first-year students because it teaches them responsibility and the importance of giving back.”