Anderson, Indiana

Student United Way at AU partners with homeless outreach program

Mon, 2014-06-23 09:25 -- smgower
Student United Way partnered with Tear Down the Walls to provide meals to Indianapolis homeless in November 2013.
June 23, 2014

Student United Way (SUW), a student interest club at Anderson University, delivered warm clothing and meals to the homeless in downtown Indianapolis on Nov. 23.

SUW, coordinated by United Way of Madison County, completes service projects each year throughout the central Indiana region. One of their projects during the 2013-2014 school year involved a partnership with Tear Down the Walls (TDW), a homeless outreach program in Indianapolis.

Ryan Harter, a senior management major with a concentration in organizational management and minors in finance and public relations, connected SUW with TDW. Harter had previously worked with TDW and continued his involvement with the organization through this project.

“We were able to collect more winter clothing and money and were able to use campus outlets to help us reach more people,” said Harter. “Good can be done when you put your mind to something.”

Shelby Kugler, a senior social work major with a nonprofit leadership minor, is the vice president of SUW at AU. Kugler held the role of donation coordinator on the team of people who were in charge of the logistical procedures of the project.

“The AU campus donated an incredible amount of spare change, winter clothing items and Bibles,” said Kugler. “My favorite part of my role was how excited and willing people were to donate.”

SUW incorporated the entire AU community in the project to support Tear Down the Walls. In addition to the SUW team members, 15 AU students participated in the service project.

“It was good practice for people to be selfless, and it was cool to actually see people live that out,” said Kugler.

With AU student, faculty and staff contributions and a gift from SUW, the project was able to provide for many homeless in the Indianapolis area. Team members prepared assorted winter clothing donations and packed meals to distribute in the homeless tent villages. The students then traveled throughout the night to make deliveries.

Larissa Snyder, a senior family science major with a general studies art and design complementary major, was greatly impacted by her experience.

“I have always had a passion for the homeless, so actually being able to communicate with them on their ground was really eye-opening,” said Snyder. “We opened our hearts to what they had to say, but it broke my heart to see all those individuals out in the cold.”

Kugler noted that TDW was the most impactful service project for her since joining SUW last year.

“I got to interact with the AU community and was also able to go into the areas of Indianapolis where you would not imagine people living, especially in the cold,” said Kugler.

The participants hope to work with TDW more in the future.

“Everything I have learned and experienced at AU has taught me to serve in whatever I do,” said Kugler. “Tear Down the Walls really took me out of my comfort zone, and I would be excited to see the personal growth that comes from that.”

[Photo: SUW volunteers went to Indianapolis to serve with Tear Down the Walls homeless outreach in November 2013. SUV volunteers were able to provide packed meals and winter clothing for many homeless in Indianapolis.]

— Anna Rayis is a senior from Columbus, Ohio, majoring in communication arts. Rayis is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.

Anderson University is a private Christian university in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God (Anderson, Ind.), Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.