Rotaract Club, a service-based organization at Simpson, held a tie blanket event on Oct. 22 in Hubbell Hall to make blankets for local service organizations. The event was held entirely in-person and included 30 participants.
“We do a service project once a month for people on campus. We try and do events that either benefit our community partners or the students and community of Simpson,” said Laura Nielsen, the president of Rotaract Club.
Rotaract hosts a variety of service events ranging from packaging meals for Meals from the Heartland to writing letters to veterans. This year’s tie blanket event was the club’s second time hosting the activity.
“We started the tie blanket event last year because we noticed that a lot of clubs already do tie blanket events on their own, and we wanted to host one big event so that we’re all tying at the same time,” Nielsen said. “We wanted to do it again because it went over really well last year.”
This year the club made 42 blankets, and the blankets will be divided between four organizations: The Helping Hand of Warren County, The Village Living Community, the Bidwell Riverside Center, and Hospice of the Midwest.
“Anytime a group of people come together to work toward a common goal, it is a success,” Nielsen said.
Rotaract did have to make some changes to the event due to COVID-19. Among the changes were moving the event from Black Box to Hubbell Hall, receiving approval from the Crisis Management Team and requiring participants to sign up ahead of time.
“Last year, it was just a drop-in event, and people could come and go as they pleased,” Nielsen said. “Because it was in Black Box last year, a lot of people stopped by simply because they saw us working there. This year was definitely more of a structured event.”
However, according to Nielsen, COVID-19 hasn’t been all bad for the club.
“COVID-19 has made it harder for people to find community service hours,” she said. “I think that our events have actually been better attended because of COVID-19 because people are searching for ways to stay on campus and serve.”
Students in attendance at the tie blanket event expressed gratitude at being able to attend service events in person. Junior Shelby McCasland is a Wesley Service Scholar but has struggled to find service opportunities during the pandemic.
“Rotaract is the only opportunity I’ve been able to find where we can actually do service in person. They’re really good opportunities,” McCasland said. “You get to interact with people, and it’s much more of a satisfying experience. You feel like you’re actually doing something versus just sitting in your apartment doing stuff on your computer.”
Sophomore Jessica Pierce also attended the event for a fun way to give back to the community.
“I think it’s important for Simpson students to see how they are still able to give back, and it doesn’t have to be a huge, difficult thing,” Pierce said. “It can also be fun.”
According to Nielsen, providing safe, in-person service events is one of Rotaract’s goals during the pandemic.
“I think that one of the best parts of community service is the community part of it. Whether it’s interacting with people you’re serving with or people you are serving to, I think that human interaction is important, and that’s really hard to get virtually,” Nielsen said.
Rotaract is available to anyone interested in participating, and their events are open to the entire campus. If anyone is interested in getting involved in Rotaract, they can email Laura Nielsen or attend an event to be automatically added to the email list.