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Cali Owings, Published August 26 2013

Concordia students lend their 'Hands for Change'

MOORHEAD – First-year students at Concordia College kicked off their semester by volunteering Monday morning at 40 sites throughout the Fargo-Moorhead area including the Great Plains Food Bank, the American Red Cross and the Red River Zoo.

Students braved the heat to volunteer as part of the orientation program called “Hands for Change,” which celebrated its 20th year of putting new students into the community for service learning projects.

More than 32,000 students have lent a hand to local organizations through the program since its inception in 1993.

A group of 22 students spent their morning at the Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre painting, weeding and doing other odd jobs lingering on the staff’s to-do list.

Scott Brusven, artistic and development director for the FMCT, said the students completed tasks the theater’s normal day-to-day staff couldn’t accomplish. Concordia students have been giving the theater a helping hand at the start of each school year for several years, Brusven said.

Brusven, a 2005 Concordia graduate, said he still remembers his service project from when he started school there in 2001. He spent the day at Eventide chatting with seniors and learning about the Fargo-Moorhead area through their eyes. Now, he said he’s happy the theater participates in the program because it helps encourage students to become lifelong volunteers.

“It ingrains students very early on with the idea that focusing outward and community stewardship is a vital role of citizenship,” he said.

Erika Grinde, a first-year Cobber who helped weed and clean at the theater Monday, said volunteering is something she’s always enjoyed doing to help others and to get to know people. During high school in Plymouth, Minn., she volunteered at a food shelf and at a women’s shelter.

She said the experience helped her get to know other students before classes start Thursday.

“In a classroom setting, it’s much more nerve-wracking,” Grinde said. “Here, I don’t care that I’m sweaty and gross.”

Laura Clark, a junior guide for the group of new students, said the experience helps students find ways to give back throughout their time in college.

She spent her “Hands for Change” experience sorting food and clothing donations at a church.

“It opened doors to see where in the community you can go,” Clark said. “There (are) so many things you can do to volunteer in this area.”

Back to school at area colleges:

- Monday was the first day of classes for students at Minnesota State University Moorhead.

- Night classes at North Dakota State University also began Monday, but the first full day of school is Tuesday.

- Concordia College classes begin Thursday.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Cali Owings at (701) 241-5599