50 Viterbo students spent all Saturday morning volunteering for their Spirit of St. Francis Service Saturday. Students helped out at six different sites, including the Salvation Army's Christmas Boutique on Copeland Avenue.
The boutique usually has a small staff, but that staff says the extra help makes a huge difference. Every year around this time, the boutique prepares for the holiday season, and there's quite a bit to do before their grand opening on October 17.
"We wouldn't be able to do it without all of these volunteers," said Karen Conway, an associate at the boutique. "We are a limited staff. This enables all of us to get [the store] up and running."
The boutique is one of six sites for Viterbo's 'Service Saturday', a way for students to explore some of Viterbo's core values first hand.
"I think what's been really fun to see is how integrity and contemplation, how these things are lived out in service," said Kirsten Gabriel, Viterbo's Director of Undergraduate Research and Service Learning.
This isn't for credit or tied to any class either. Each student chose to spend their Saturday morning helping out in the community.
"Everyone who's here, all 50 people who volunteered for today's Service Saturday event, they're all here of their own volition," added Gabriel. "They just decided that this was a good thing to be a part of."
That decision is something the boutique is very thankful for because without these volunteers, setting up for the season is much more difficult.
"If we wouldn't have volunteers, this would take a long time," said Conway. "There's typically only one of us that can come over at a time... it would be months, versus days."
Students also helped the parks and rec department clean up brush on top of the bluffs and helped with prepping an organic garden for winter. The Service Saturday is a relatively new initiative, beginning last February. Viterbo has been doing it once a month, but as interest grows, they hope to make it a more frequent event.