Semester of Service

Health, Healing and Humanity 2020 Annual Theme Logo

Spring 2021

IWU has a strong tradition of community engagement. Whether you give your time or talent, get involved with a cause or campaign, or donate items or money -- the community needs your support. We invite all members of our campus to participate in the activities listed below. 

If you have questions or suggestions about these activities or IWU community engagement, please contact Deborah Halperin at

Thank you!

Collection Drive

School Street Food Pantry logoFrom February 15 - April 16, we will collect products and financial contributions for the School Street Food Pantry. 

The School Street Food Pantry exclusively serves local college students including IWU. They are only open on Fridays from 4-6pm. The pantry is located inside the First United Methodist Church at 211 North School Street in Normal.

Students follow masking and social distancing guidelines to “shop” and receive both food and non-food items. They prefer that students sign up for appointments but they will not turn away any student. Students should take an ID when visiting the pantry. Follow them on Instagram @schoolstreetfoodpantry to learn more. Please encourage all IWU students to use the pantry as needed and to share this opportunity with fellow students. 

The School Street Food Pantry is in need of shampoo/conditioner, bar soap, and deodorant. Drop off any donations -- items or cash/check -- at the Hansen Student Center desk or at the ARC Office (Ames Library 114). 

Want to plan your own collection drive? Contact the nonprofit you want to work with and talk with them about what they need right now. For example: Heartland Head Start needs toothbrushes and toothpaste for their families. YouthBuild McLean County needs tampons and feminine hygiene products for their students. The VFW (contact Kevin Lancaster at 309-530-5927) sends care packages to soldiers overseas and they need toiletries, socks, and non-perishable snacks like jerky, crackers, canned meats, and peanut butter. All local nonprofits are in need of financial donations. If you would like assistance in finding a collection drive partner, contact Deborah Halperin at


On Site Service

Opportunities to travel to nonprofits in order to volunteer are very limited right now. Therefore we are offering a few opportunities for you to make a difference in the community while still on campus. Here are the dates for this semester:

February 12-14: Douglass Day Transcribe-a-thon
This remote workshop allows writers with an interest in historical documents, the contributions of Black people in America, and/ or the contemporaries of Frederick Douglass the opportunity to work with the worldwide organization,, to create electronic versions of many handwritten documents. The method used is transcription, a means of typing documents online that were previously not in e-form. Contact Anna Scanlon, Writing Center Director, at to sign up. 

March 8-12: Thank our Essential Workers
Stop by Ames Library (SE Corner of the 1st Floor) to create a thank you card for our essential workers. We will deliver these to staff both on campus and at the Community Health Care Clinic along with some sweet treats from Grove Street Bakery. 

April (exact date TBD): Come help in the Peace Garden
The garden is located just east of the Welcome Center. Join us to get the garden beds ready for the growing season and to help build the new cistern pump platform and follow-on irrigation system. No green thumbs required! 

Want to plan your own service project? Contact the agency in advance to learn about service opportunities and COVID restrictions. The Midwest Food Bank can accommodate groups of students, Miller Park Zoo has some special event options right now, and Home Sweet Home posted some new opportunities. You can follow BN Campus Community Engagement on Facebook to learn about new opportunities as nonprofits post them. 

Advocacy & Civic Engagement

Making your voice heard is your right and your responsibility. Think about what it means to you to be an active citizen and get involved with your community.

On going: #12MonthsIn6Words
Contribute to the McLean County Museum of History campaign to capture residents’ 6 words about the past year of quarantine. Go to to be part of this community-wide effort. Follow the campaign on instagram @12monthsin6words.

March 2 at 5pm: Writing as Protest
Are you interested in social justice? Do you support a variety of causes but are feeling a bit hindered as a result of the COVID Pandemic? Did the disparate treatment of rioters in the Capitol light your political spark? This workshop is for you. We'll meet to discuss inspirational protest writing and work on some of our own. Contact Anna Scanlon, Director of the IWU Writing Center, to register. 

April 6: VOTE!
If you are registered to vote in McLean County, please make sure you vote in the mayoral election. Not sure of your registration status? Check out this website: Illinois Online Voter Application.

Want to plan your own advocacy event? You can write letters, sign petitions, and organize a rally. Identify your elected officials and talk to them about the issues that matter to you. Join together with others to make a difference.