HELPING OTHERS: KU students, 4-H youth among teams of volunteers

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October 11, 2016 - 12:00 AM

Sure, they could have taken some time off for their fall break.
But University of Kansas students Maddie Payne, Megan Krahl and David Walter instead chose to spend the past four days busying themselves through community service.
More specifically, the students assisted with storm cleanup efforts Saturday in Humboldt, and helping begin construction of a new playground and picking up junk and piles of trash from a number of yards in LaHarpe.
Payne, a college senior from Denver, Krahl, a Wichita freshman, and Walter, a freshman from Overland Park, were in Allen County as part of the KU Alternative Breaks program, a student-run organization dedicated to community service.
The college’s fall break began Friday, allowing the trio the opportunity to choose their destination.
They had heard of the Allen County projects through Thrive Allen County, which is spearheading a series of Community Engagement Grant activities.
In LaHarpe, that meant cleaning properties and playground construction.
“When we signed up, we were told a little bit about what would be happening, but we didn’t know exactly what we were getting ourselves into,” Krahl said.
The work, particularly in LaHarpe, was an eye-opener, Payne agreed.
“Driving around and seeing some of those houses with plastic over their windows was a little more than I expected,” Payne said.

THEY WEREN’T the only volunteers keeping themselves busy.
After first being dispatched to Humboldt Saturday to assist with limb and brush cleanup from the Thursday evening storms, the students worked alongside LaHarpe PRIDE, City Slickers 4-H members, Thrive officials, LaHarpe businessman Ray Maloney and other volunteers in LaHarpe all day Sunday and Monday.
“A lot of groups came together,” noted Thrive Program Director Damaris Kunkler. “It’s definitely been a positive experience for us to work with the KU Alternative Breaks program. The kids were wonderful.”
The 4-H contingent was in LaHarpe as part of its “48 Hours of Service” effort.

HELPING others is nothing new for any of the three KU students.
Payne, for example, worked through the Alternative Breaks program previously with homeless youth in St. Louis. Krahl did the same in Wichita, and Walter has been involved with a Kansas City-based literacy program.
“I’ve started interviewing for careers, and I know I want to start doing something with economic development,” Payne said, emphasizing her eagerness to work with groups such as Thrive.

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