Maxwell: Do some good at Iowa State


Photo: Huiling Wu/Iowa State Daily

Gorevile Manor is located at 203 Ash Ave. and will be open from 7 p.m. to midnight Thursday through Saturday. The undead men of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity will perform Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” every hour with witch hangings and a choreographed dance. There will be $5 entry fee.

Alexander Maxwell

As students, we are lucky enough to have great opportunities in our future. It takes hard work and a few years to earn these opportunities, but to even have that chance is a gift. We have an obligation to respect what we have been given, and because of this we should want to do things that benefit others rather than primarily ourselves. Luckily, Iowa State has many resources to donate time or money to a good cause.

There are many student organizations and events where students can be a part of something greater than themselves, and the best place to find these opportunities at Iowa State is the service section of the Student Activities Center website. The range of these opportunities is extensive, and they vary greatly in the efforts they require. Some, like the 10,000 Hours Show, do not have specific requirements. This event only requires 10 hours of local community service to attend a volunteer-only celebration and concert at the end of the year.

Because of student volunteers, these events and organizations have a significant impact on their respective charities. The Dance Marathon is the largest student-run philanthropy at Iowa State, and it raised $380,000 last January for the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital, all from a 15-hour dance session. Sometimes you even get cookies when you save lives. This month many students attended the Blood Drive and donated blood, which is vital to many people. For most of these donors, providing something to those in need took little more than a small part of their day.

Even if you are not able to dedicate much time towards giving back, some of the best philanthropies also do not require much more than eating. For example, Betalicious Walking Tacos is an event that serves walking tacos at the Memorial Lutheran church across from the Memorial Union for $5 during the last week of October to raise money for the Bethesda Lutheran Home and YMCA; or you can get a Thanksgiving meal for $5 on Nov. 15 by going to Gobblefest at Theta Chi fraternity and helping to support “Hope 4 Africa.” There are many other food-based events, but my personal favorite philanthropy is the haunted mansion called “Gorevile,” hosted this weekend by Lambda Chi Alpha, which is also $5 and benefits Childserve in Johnston. I go to haunted houses every October, and it is nice to know that the closest one also helps a local charity.

Though it should be in our nature to want to help others, volunteering does provide us with some personally beneficial side-effects. The ability to dedicate your time for something from which you do not directly benefit is something that potential employers look for on a resume, because it shows that you can work toward something without expecting a definitive personal reward. This has also been shown to have positive mental effects. For example, earlier this year the peer-reviewed journal Innovative Higher Education published a small study entitled “Does Student Philanthropy Work?“ that explored the results of students’ involvement in philanthropic activities by measuring the effects it had on the involved students up to 10 years later.

They found that “years after their student philanthropy experience a majority of them said it had positive effects on their awareness, learning, beliefs and intentions.”

It may be easy to forget how fortunate we are to be able to live our lives comfortably, especially while in college. But we must remember that other people are not as fortunate, and we can easily show that we are grateful for what we have by spending our time in ways that help people who need it. It is our choice how much we dedicate ourselves when we do this, and it obviously does not take much for us to do so at Iowa State — we can even do it by doing the things we do anyway, like eating tacos or going to a haunted house. As students, we may not have many resources, but the ability to give back is something we never lose.