Students turn out for day of service


Maverick’s Day of Service allows students to work with organizations to improve their community, April 1.

Hundreds of students, faculty and staff reached out to nonprofits and communities across Wichita Falls Saturday for the annual Maverick’s day of service. The event began with students, chatter and distinctive bright orange event T shirts filling the Clark Student Center atrium. Student check in began at 8:15am on Saturday morning, and within an hour, university faculty and staff had ferried the volunteers to organizations around town, where students spent the morning helping with a wide variety of tasks.

Mario Ramirez, director of student leadership and involvement, detailed the process of getting everything ready for the day, and said the process starts with reaching out to the organizations. From there, a host of logistical needs have to be addressed.

“Our process begins probably the previous semester, like November, we contact the nonprofits and the service areas that have participated in the past and say ‘hey, save the date, we’ll be sending out more emails and communication to y’all about signing up.’ So the logistics of that starts with the areas that we are going to send students to, right? And then from there we, once the spring semester begins, then we start kind of working more with the nonprofits, calling them. And then the registration opens up for the nonprofits in the early spring semester for them to sign up, tell us what they need help with, what they’re going to do, what our students are going to do, what they need to wear, if they need any assistance or anything like that,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez said once that part of the process is complete, attention turns to maintaining communication and coordinating students to prepare them for the day. Once the day of service itself arrives, it sparks a flurry of action.

“As soon as the students start registering, then kind of everything starts moving a little quicker. So the nonprofits are ready, and we notify them weekly a month out saying, ‘hey, we have 10 students registered, five students registered, currently we have no students registered,’ or whatever the case may be. From there we kind of begin our registering, notification, email process, so it is an exciting kind of deal. Then you know, the day happens, we have breakfast, T shirts, check in, staff, a little bit of everything. It goes from the previous semester to the day of, and it’s booking all of the reservations, the vans, and all of that. So that’s from start to end,” Ramirez said.

Andrew Katumwehe, assistant professor of geosciences, was one of the faculty members who came out to help with the event. Katumwehe was a driver who helped shuttle students to their destinations for the day of service. As he watched students check in for the event Saturday morning, Katumwehe said he was pleased with the turnout for the event.

“I am excited that we have this big turnout. And the excitement I am seeing on the faces of people who are going to help out is also encouraging. So we have a generation that understands community service,” Katumwehe said.

Students gather at the Clark Student Center atrium before departing to their various volunteer opportunities.
Students gather at the Clark Student Center atrium before departing to their various volunteer opportunities, April 1. (Casee Harl)

Ramirez echoed Katumwehe’s enthusiasm for the turnout. Ramirez also said the event has grown and rebounded from being canceled in 2020.

“So 2020 we had to cancel it. Obviously it was scheduled for April, and the campus, the nation, the world shut down around March area. So we canceled it, so obviously we didn’t have one. And then last year we had about 130 people sign up with about eight or 10 organizations. We probably have about close to 300 students out here, students, faculty and staff. We also had individuals help check in, we had individuals all over the place. I feel like our partnership and our participation has grown,” Ramirez said.

The students that participated did so for a variety of reasons. Lindsey Nager, computer science junior, came out to scope out the event as a potential opportunity for her student organization, the Association for Computers and Machinery.

“I was looking for an opportunity next semester for my student organization to volunteer, and I thought, I came just to check this out. Just to see how it would be so we can do it again the next time it came around,” Nager said.

Jacqueline Servin, marketing sophomore, is also an ACM member, and said she came because Nager invited her. Servin also said she looked forward to participating in the event again.

“So I kind of was just like ‘OK, I like this opportunity,’ and I’m also part of the ACM now. It was exciting to know that we’re going to do this again and with the whole group,” Servin said.

Mackenzie Brown, secondary education freshman, said she signed up for the Sikes Lake cleanup.

“To honestly just pick up the lake and help it look better.”

Brown went on to say volunteering can help students feel better about themselves.

“I feel like whenever you’re doing something for other people it makes you feel better. Like you’re giving instead of just taking all the time,” Brown said.

Dagmawit Getaneh, nursing junior, summed up the simplest reason students turned out to help across Wichita Falls.

“Honestly, I just wanted to volunteer,” Getaneh said.

Ketumwehe said students giving their time helps the community.

“It’s part of community service. As a society, we need to always help wherever possible. There are people who are in need, there are places that need our service, and we have to offer that,” Ketumwehe said.

Students help paint murals with Downtown Wichita Falls Development.
Downtown Wichita Falls Development was one of the organizations that accepted the help of students during Maverick’s Day of Service, April 1. (Casee Harl)

Ramirez spoke similarly about the impact of the event. He said the day of service gives students the opportunity to focus on matters beyond MSU.

“I think for MSU it’s really creating a sense of service learning for the students, and connecting the student body, staff and faculty to the Wichita Falls community, nonprofits and areas of need. I think sometimes we get stuck in our bubble at MSU and really don’t go outside of that, and I think it’s important to give back,” Ramirez said.

Organizations that signed up for the event included: the Arts Council, Southside Girl’s Club Inc., North Texas Area United Way, Wichita Falls Area Food Bank, Wichita Falls Museum of Art, the Salvation Army, the Humane Society, Whispers of Hope Horse Farm, Downtown Wichita Falls Development, Zavala Hispanic Cultural Initiative, Kell House Heritage Center, First Step Inc., Texoma Cowboy Church and Faith Mission.