AUM students create face masks for Tallassee City Schools

AUM students’ service-learning projects focus on helping community during COVID

AUM students create face masks for Tallassee City Schools
Students Alisha Miller and Christopher Thompson created face masks for Tallassee City School District employees.

Students in a recent Auburn University at Montgomery UNIV Student Success course used their service learning projects as an opportunity to serve others during the coronavirus pandemic.

In Fall 2020, students in AUM’s UNIV 1000 course addressed needs in the community using course content in areas such as development of society, time management, critical thinking and communication as a foundation for their projects.

“Service learning helps students learn in a deeper way by getting them outside of the classroom to attain real-world experiences,” said AUM student Alisha Miller, who collaborated on a project to make face masks for employees in the Tallassee City School District.

For the service-learning project, Miller teamed up with AUM student Christopher Thompson to

Student Karen Paz volunteered at a local food Pantry
Student Karen Paz volunteered at a local food pantry.

create face masks for the health and safety of Tallassee City School District employees during coronavirus pandemic. In Alabama, residents have been required to wear face masks in public buildings.

Using social media to advertise and raise more than $350 for their project, Miller and Thompson learned about best practices for time management and collaboration to efficiently meet their project’s goal of delivering masks to teachers and staff in Tallassee City schools.

“I was happy that I could help others with what they needed,” Miller said. “I learned it only takes one person to make a difference, and everyone loved the masks.”

Thompson added, “The experience helped me to become a better student overall. “We received nothing but positive feedback, and it was the first time I felt part of my community.”

AUM Student Wiktoria Warpechowska
Wiktoria Warpechowska

AUM student Karen Paz worked with the nonprofit HandsOn River Region and Metropolitan United Methodist Church’s drive-through food pantry to fight hunger in the community.

Alabama is currently ranked the second state in the nation with the highest food hardship rate and about 19.2 percent of its population is food insecure due to the state’s high rate of unemployment, Paz said.

“I chose this as a project because I believe this is a community service that benefits my community,” she said. “This service helps to reach out directly to those in the community who are currently struggling with low wages or currently unemployed and are not able to fulfill their family’s basic necessity.”

Paz registered with HandsOn River Region to help prepare, pack and organize bags with food and distribute them to families in the community. At the end of the food drive, volunteers were able to feed about 550 households, Paz said.

“At first, I was nervous because it was a completely new experience and did not know what to expect,” she said. “The project helped me to develop and improve my social and communication skills.”

Student Peyton Harris at a local assisted living facility for the elderly.
Student Peyton Harris at a local assisted living facility for the elderly.

While the pandemic has changed how students learn at universities, Wiktoria Warpechowska, an AUM student from Poland, used her service-learning project as an opportunity to help educate others about the diverse areas of study at AUM.

In a video, Warpechowska navigated different colleges at AUM to interview students from different majors such as exercise science in the College of Education. She also interviewed students from AUM’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, College of Business, College of Sciences, and College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

Student Peyton Harris also created a video service-learning project showing how she reached elderly adults in a local assisted living facility. Harris distributed cards to residents in the facility and also held reading sessions.

Ben Miers and Caden Lockett volunteer at Autauga-Prattville Public Library.To raise awareness about improvements needed in area school systems, AUM students Ben Miers and Caden Lockett collaborated to volunteer at the Autauga-Prattville Public Library.

“Montgomery area school systems are some of the most underfunded, poorest performing schools in the nation,” the students noted in their project. “This affects every part of our life, from our local economy to our healthcare to our public services. If the Montgomery area developed a better educational system, Montgomery will have a bright future.”