The Media and Society class taught by Kate Elliott, Ball State University lecturer of journalism, opened with an activity she’s done for several years.
Elliott started her 9 a.m. class with a statistic that shows why Ball State’s partners with United Way (UW). In the five county region, including Delaware County, 50 percent of people do not have access to basic necessities.
She had her students make bookmarks meant for donation to Little Free Libraries. Elliott had her students make these bookmarks for Ball State’s Day of Action, which is a part of the United Way campaign.
Her supplies were stickers and markers, along with a strip of paper. Her students, despite the early hour, showed interest.
“I thought [making bookmarks] was really fun because it gives us a break from all the learning we've done this past two weeks,” Danielle Arenas, first year journalism and graphic design major, said. “Also ... because I'm not from here … it's nice to do things that give back to [the] community that I'm nearly in.”
Arenas is a student in Elliott’s class. Elliott said that last year her students made around 500 bookmarks.
“We all asked our students to write bookmarks of favorite quotes about reading or just encouraging phrases and things like that,” Elliott said.
United Way is an international nonprofit organization that focuses on helping communities. Their website said, “United Way uses its global reach and local presence to build stronger, more resilient and more equitable communities where everyone can thrive.”
The Day of Action is a way for Ball State employees to help Delaware and surrounding counties. The day itself is set to be held on Friday, Sept. 9, with events all-day.
There are events happening leading up to the actual day, such as the feminine hygiene drive and the used book drive, according to Ball State’s Day of Action website. Elliott plans to do more than just make bookmarks for the Day of Action. She is serving as the Ball State chair for the United Way campaign.
The Day of Action is one sect of her responsibilities. She is also in charge of going out into the Ball State community and spreading awareness about the United Way campaign. She said she’ll encourage faculty to donate their time and money to the campaign for more than just the Day of Action.
“The Day of Action is one element of that, where [faculty] can give up their time,” Elliott said.
Along with being the chair, Elliott also is in charge of the “Beautify Muncie Community Schools” project. In this project, volunteers will help organize, repaint and landscape the school and school grounds.
The Office of Community Engagement is the one who fronts the planning of the Day of Action. The President’s Office, Ball State Facilities and University Marketing and Communications also help, Krista Flynn, program director, said via email.
Flynn has been involved with Ball State’s United Way programs since the beginning in 2015.
In 2015, the first year of involvement, the Office of Community Engagement would volunteer directly through United Way. In the second year, Ball State’s programming grew to two projects due to contracts and grants, Flynn said.
“These first two years were warm ups for what was to come next,” Flynn said. “When President Mearns started at Ball State, it was very important to him for us [Ball State] to be strong partners with the United Way. With his support, we created our own projects in the community that would benefit the UW and our numbers exploded.”
Though the Day of Action and Ball State’s United Way campaign is geared towards Ball State faculty, students can be involved as well.
“Some professors make these opportunities extra credit. Coaches have their teams work on a project as team building and any student can count time volunteering on the Day of Action towards volunteering goals they need to meet,” Flynn said.
Flynn said in 2021, 431 students, employees and retirees were involved with the Day of Action.
Flynn said, for the 2022 Day of Action, Ball State has 11 projects planned. Three are on campus: Literacy Kit, Snack Attack and Warmth for Winter.
Elliott’s bookmarks will be a part of the Literacy Kit event. The Literacy Kit project plans to assemble 200 literacy kits to help encourage reading to children. The project is from noon to 3 p.m. at John R. Emens College-Community Auditorium, according to Ball State’s Day of Action website.
Snack Attack will have volunteers “assemble over 1,000 snack packs for local elementary schools to distribute to kids who rely on school meals and snacks for basic nutrition,” according to the website. The project will be held at Emens from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Warmth for Winter is also at Emens, and volunteers will put together winter clothing for children. The winter clothing will be donated to local shelters, according to the website.