January: Giving Green

Happy New Year, Cyclones! It’s Molly and Maddie, and we hope you had a great 2018 and a well-deserved break. Twenty-eighteen was a great year in sustainability, that kept us moving towards new goals and accomplishments – all having a connection to giving… of time, effort, creativity and dedication. As we reflect on 2018 and look forward to what 2019 has in store, it seems quite fitting that this month’s celebratory theme is Giving Green.

Collection for the Community Initiative

In line with month’s theme, one of our personal resolutions this January is to give more. Give more to those you love and those in need. Specifically, through the Office of Sustainability and Live Green! Initiative, to celebrate and empower the spirit and impact of giving, we are collecting non perishable food items, toiletries, and gently used clothing donations throughout the month of January. All collected items will be distributed to those in need through campus and community organizations, including (for food and toiletries) The SHOP (Students Helping Our Peers), a student organization we are also spotlighting this month, Food at First, a free meal program and food and supplies pantry and our local food bank in Ames. Clothing donations will be included in the annual Sustainapalooza Clothing Swap on Tuesday, February 19th from 5:30-7:30pm in the Memorial Union, Oak Room, as well as be distributed to those in need.


You can drop off donations at the following locations at following times:

  • Collection Box in East Student Office Space of Memorial Union from January 16-29th  *additional tabling and collection on January 16th 10am-2pm by the West Staircase in Memorial Union – look for the Live Green! display and again on February 6th from 10-2pm*
  • First floor of General Services Building January 2-30th 8am-5pm (weekdays only)
  • ISU Dining Centers (Windows, UDCC, Conversations, Seasons, and Memorial Union) January 28-February 1st 11am-1pm and 5-7pm



That’s not all!!    Giving Green through Dining Donations

During the week of January 28th, ISU Dining is offering a wonderful giving green opportunity through their brand new  “Give a Swipe” Initiative. Through this initiative, students can donate 1 or 2 FlexMeals from their meal plan or block plan, up to $16 Dining Dollars ($8 increments), or a combination (1 FlexMeal and $8 Dining Dollars) to help a fellow Cyclone. ISU Dining will collect all donations and work with campus partners to distribute the donated “swipes” to students in need. Donations can be made and any questions answered at ISU Dining Centers (Windows, UDCC, Conversations, Seasons, and Memorial Union), January 28-February 1st 11am-1pm and 5-7pm.

Cyclones Giving Green

There are a diversity ways- big and small that Iowa State University gives. And since every act of giving supports sustaining a community, whether our campus community, our community of Ames or communities across the US or around the world – each giving act is one that gives green. One of the primary means of giving green, of which we are especially proud, is our impressive and impactful commitment to philanthropy. Whether through volunteering our time or offering monetary commitment to our community’s annual United Way campaign and Day of Caring event; planning and engaging in a variety of non-profit fundraising initiatives through runs, frigid plunges, tasty treats and all-night dancing or lending time and expertise through serving in campus and community organizations with focus on leaving a sustainable future for the generations who follow us – we have a strong legacy of giving.

Giving Green through Greening Laboratories

Through a unique community partnership, Iowa State University laboratories are giving back through recycling glass. The partnership originated in 2012 when the City of Ames contacted the University about diverting as much glass as possible from the waste stream and save wear and tear on the City’s Resource Recovery System. Through the creative vision of a Live Green! intern, the idea of utilizing empty Tidy Cats litter containers (specifically the yellow containers with the red lids) was proposed in order to support the request of the city through ensuring ISU’s 1,800+ laboratories had adequate and reusable containers to use in recycling laboratory glass. The cause, saving money and reducing environmental impact, quickly took hold and container donations came to ISU from community members and alum. An especially significant donation came from Nestle Purina directly. Having read about ISU’s initiative, Nestle Purina offered the donation of 1000 containers of Tidy Cats litter to area animal shelters with the requirement that all empty containers being donated to ISU for laboratory glass recycling, an especially unique additional connection to giving back to community. Donations of containers (especially Cyclone color-inspired ones) are still needed and accepted. Contact livegreen@iastate.edu for more information.


Greeks Giving Back

Annually, Iowa State University students provide thousands of hours of volunteer service to causes and community. Especially noteworthy among our students are those belonging to Iowa State University’s Greek community (made up of 65 chapters and engaging 5,000 students). Sorority and fraternity members do a lot of giving through their chapters – annually averaging 50,000 hours of volunteer service and $450,000 donated to philanthropic causes.

Kylie Ahrendsen, member of Chi Omega, offered specific insight on how her sorority is gives back and the significance of the give back commitment embraced by the entire Greek community. “We support the Liz Kirke Foundation and The Make-A-Wish Foundation. Our Fall philanthropy, Chi O Corndogs is one event that supports our fundraising efforts for the Liz Kirke Foundation. This philanthropy raises money for a scholarship fund in the name of Liz Kirke, a late Chi Omega member. The scholarship is awarded annually to an Iowa State student in the College of Design. I think it is important for the Greek Community and all organizations to give back because it benefits the community we are a part of. Philanthropic events help us come together as a chapter to give to others in need.  Giving back and service to others is a key focus of Chi Omega and all chapters in the Greek Community!”


Supporting Communities in Need

Ensuring we can connect unneeded supplies to outlets in need is a focus related to all surplus items at Iowa State University. To achieve this, ISU Surplus works diligently to find these connections. First, efforts are focused on redistributing university assets to other departments, state funded entities or tax supported organizations throughout the State of Iowa. After those avenues of disposal have been explored, remaining materials are made available for sale to the general public. In the event items may still be available, connections are made to identify non-profit organizations to which items can be donated. Through a recent connection, over 187 tons of furniture (4,730 pieces) from a Department of Residence residential housing renovation (determined unsellable and otherwise destined for landfilling), were donated to communities in need throughout the US and internationally.

A community event for the City of Ames, in partnership with the Office of Sustainability, Rummage Rampage, offers a similar opportunity for unwanted, but useful, items that community residents find they no longer need. Taking part during late July into early August, this event offers a collection for any unwanted residential items and, in turn, offers a large-scale, 7-day garage sale. Last year (2018), marked the third annual Rummage RAMPage diverted 102,550 pounds of furniture and housewares (over 50 tons) from the landfill and raised $18,607 for Ames non-profit organizations.


Breaking Green

An especially noteworthy opportunity students are offered related to giving green, comes each year during spring break. While most may think of beaches, sun and pure relaxation during this annual time off from classes, there is an alternative. Starting in 2008 the Alternative Breaks Program was founded on the vision of providing unique leadership opportunities for students and soon established itself as significant give back experience. Though initially offering spring break connections, the program has now expanded to offer trips during fall and spring semester breaks and includes connections with a diversity of service organizations including Second Harvest Heartland in Minneapolis, Common Ground Relief in New Orleans, and SO many more.


Participating student volunteers not only feel like they are giving back, they find the experience gives back to them as well.

“My Alternative Breaks experience was one of the highlights of my year. Overall, the trip was unforgettable, but among my favorite memories are getting to know the other great students that got to share this experience with me.”

“All of it will be an experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Not only did I get to experience every aspect of the organization, but I got to see how passionate everyone was with what they were doing. Just being around them and taking in their energy inspired me to want to help them make a difference.”

“It was an amazing trip filled with so much laughter and joy. We had unforgettable experiences no matter what we did. This trip was very eye opening as well as enjoyable. I learned a lot as well as a lot about myself as an individual. I was so glad I was able to go and help these men, and I will remember the entire trip forever, especially the conversations I had and the people I got to know.”

Keeping ISU Clean and Green

Keep Iowa State Beautiful, a university affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, was established, as its name implies – to keep campus clean, green and beautiful. Its mission – to create a culture of beautification on campus and encourage individuals and teams to monitor designated areas, and to host events for the campus and community to remove litter thereby beautifying campus and the surrounding areas. While Keep Iowa State Beautiful encourages a personal commitment to keeping campus beautiful, the campus community is also offered a unique give back opportunity toward keeping campus clean and green. The Adopt Campus Program offers students, faculty and staff – individuals, groups and teams the opportunity to “adopt” a specific part of campus to keep beautiful.

Giving Experiences

Though experiences are offered to our students through a plethora of ways, fundraising efforts and success through the work of the ISU Foundation has added significantly to the adventures from which students have been able to choose while at Iowa State. The Foundation offers giving opportunities to support specific university projects, colleges and scholarships. Currently of focus is The Forever True, For Iowa State campaign, with the goal of giving Iowa State students global leadership awareness and experiences through providing an education that seeks to solve the complex problems facing our world.

In consideration of scholarships specifically, more than 85% of Iowa State students receive some form of financial aid to support their pursuit of higher education. Thousands of scholarships are awarded every year, based on need, merit, and other focus areas. Through the University’s new OneApp scholarship portal, undergraduate students can submit scholarship applications in one system.

Clubs Supporting Giving Green

Because a majority of ISU student organizations give back on an annual basis, it is really difficult to highlight just two for this month’s blog. So, instead… we are offering a little glimpse at a few groups representing a diversity of give back connections and opportunities. This list hardly scratches the surface and we encourage you to do your own discovery of the hundreds of clubs focused on philanthropy and make the connection that best fits your interests and vision of a sustainable future.


Alex Hawker from Iowa State Pay it Forward, a service and volunteer student organization at Iowa State University for the expressed purpose of revealing leadership through service, relationship and action, specifically through engaging college students in service and leadership over spring break, and throughout the school year in the Ames community, describes the overarching connection giving back offers to sustaining community and a sustainable future from the perspective of a student volunteer.

“As a volunteer organization, Pay It Forward really enjoys doing sustainability projects! Some projects we have done in the past include working in community gardens in Georgia and Missouri that use natural forms of fertilizers and picked up trash along highways and in forests in Arkansas, Texas, and many other states….A project coming up that we hope to participate in is doing some tree planting for the Ames community. In the long run, we just hope to continue doing more and more of these types of projects and even potentially partner up with green organizations on campus to come up with new ideas that we can help each other with be more green. Along with that, Pay It Forward is excited to do many more projects that cater to our earth in the future!”

Habitat for Humanity ISU Student Chapter

Through work with the Habitat for Humanity of Central Iowa and Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity, student chapter members assist with the construction of “simple, decent, and affordable” homes for families in need of housing, complete fundraising events throughout the academic year and participate in Collegiate Challenge trips and helping build homes in other states.

Iowa State University Best Buddies

Best Buddies is dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing opportunities for one-on-one friendships through matching college students volunteers with persons with intellectual disabilities.

Iowa State University Dance Marathon

As the largest student-run philanthropic organization on campus, Dance Marathon raises funds and awareness for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, specifically the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. Dance Marathon holds an annual signature celebration of life 15-hour dancing event in January to celebrate all of the benchmarks reached each year.

Oxfam America – ISU

Oxfam America focuses on the goal of righting the wrongs of poverty, hunger and social injustice through awareness, campaigns, and engagement and empowerment toward policy change.

St. Jude Up ‘til Dawn Iowa State

Part of a student-led, student-run, philanthropic program hosted by colleges and universities nationwide to raise funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, this student organization is focused on educating the entire student body on St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and recruiting teams to participate in Up ‘til Dawn annual fundraising event that ends in an all-night celebration honoring the patients and families that have many sleepless nights in hospitals.

Students Helping Rescue Animals

With the mission of helping local homeless animals through fundraising, volunteerism, and education, this student organization is targeted towards all students who have an interest in helping animals in animal shelters. Activities include fundraising events and volunteering days for local shelters and educating the community about the benefits of rescuing animals from shelters.

The SHOP (Students Helping Our Peers)

The SHOP is student run food pantry, that is completely free for ISU students, facutty and staff, regardless of economic need. This organization is supported solely through donations from campus and the community. As noted above, The SHOP is one of the organizations benefitted through this month’s Collection for the Community engagement event. Last year, hundreds of items were collected for The SHOP through collection at Live Green! events. We are hoping to double that level of giving this year to make an even larger difference toward a sustainable future. Paige Aldrichs, Vice President of The SHOP, provides more insight on The SHOP’s specific connection to sustainability.

“The SHOP Food Pantry provides a more sustainable alternative to throwing out non-perishable food and toiletry items. Community members can donate goods to the food pantry, and these items will be available for students, faculty, and staff who need them most.”  

Monthly Challenge – Giving Some Green in the New Year

We challenge all Cyclones to add some giving into your resolution this year. This can be as easy as giving a smile to a stranger or committing time with a volunteer program. No matter what you give, it offers a green difference toward our collective and shared (with everyone on the planet) sustainable future.

If you do decide, you’d like to give through giving your time and giving back, it can be a little overwhelming trying to decide how to sift through all the opportunities. Here are some connection suggestions to help you navigate.

Campus Service Crew

Formerly known as CyServe Council, offers one-day give back opportunities through service days throughout the academic year. Specifically for Cyclones, these Campus Service Days offer opportunities to support various nonprofits and campus and off-campus organizations without the request or intent of a longer-term volunteer service commitment.

Volunteer Center of Story County

The Volunteer Center of Story County is a great organization, which offers an average of 80 volunteer opportunities per week and helps to mobilize over 8,000 volunteers per year for needs throughout Story County.  Anne Owens, Executive Director of the Volunteer Center of Story County, describes the Volunteer Center’s focus on community giving and their 10-year vision for a sustainable future through volunteerism.

“The Center supports individuals, groups and organizations by making connections between them to identify and address local needs.  We partner with 195 local organizations, offer 5 community-wide days of service, support the local network of employers who offer employee volunteer programs, coordinate custom service projects for groups, and provide resources for volunteer engagement professionals in our community.”

“Our dream for the Volunteer Center ten years from now is for the organization to be mobilizing 12-15,000 volunteers to give back annually through our referrals to partner agencies and days of service.  We hope to have a satellite office housed on the ISU Campus to better coordinate service in the classroom, on campus and in the community for students, faculty and the staff. We are also exploring the feasibility of expanding our service opportunities from being available in one county to four counties in the upper, central Iowa region.”


Make your Experience Count

In the midst of taking part in all the great give back and giving opportunities at Iowa State University, ISU also offers a great tool for students to highlight their commitment to giving through Co-Curricular Transcripts. Since 2016, students have had this additional professional portfolio tool available to showcase their full ISU portfolio, not just their academic ones. Suggested components to spotlight through the co-curricular transcript, include the following:

  •             Campus Involvement
  •             Community Service
  •             Honors and Awards
  •             Internships and Study Abroad
  •             Leadership Experience
  •             On Campus Employment
  •             Publications
  •             Recreational Activities
  •             Research
  •             Seminars and Workshops
  •             Student Organizations


What’s Next?

February is a month known for showing love and embracing what is dear to us and we are excited to celebrate with the theme of  Embracing Green. In engaging campus in our February theme, we are hosting a Coffee and Conversations Event focused on engaging conversation around sustainability and those issues that are important students, faculty, staff, and Ames community members – both as individuals and a collective community. The event will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 3:30-5:30pm in Room 198 of the University Library. Join us for coffee, light refreshments and discussion.

February is also the month for the Office of Sustainability’s annual Symposium on Sustainability event. This year featuring keynote speaker, NASA Astronaut Captain Scott Kelly, a panel discussion (including faculty, staff and alumni) reflecting on our past decade of sustainability and envisioning our next decade and the annually awarded Live Green! Awards for Excellence in Sustainability.

To keep updated on all the latest 10 Year updates and happenings, don’t forget to join our Ten Years of Living Green Facebook group.

Have a wonderfully giving January!!  

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