Mines students introduced to community through Oregivers Service Project

First-year and transfer students worked on 66 service projects across Golden as part of Colorado School of Mines’ new student orientation

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On Aug. 21, the South Intramural Fields at Colorado School of Mines transformed into a sunscreen-scented sea of orange T-shirts. Sitting in the grass, groups of students peered at the collection of rakes, gardening gloves and trash bags at the edge of the field, wondering which tools would be in their hands for the next few hours.

These students were about to embark on 66 service projects across the Golden community as part of the Oregivers Service Project, an event for first-year and transfer students at CSM. The event was part of Fall Kick Off, a four-day orientation program organized by the New Student and Transition Services Office. This year, the Oregivers Service Project mobilized about 1,600 new students, serving in groups led by peer mentors.

“I think teaching our first-year students that we are a part of a greater community that already does so much for our school is so critical to helping them establish a good mindset going into the four years of college,” said Lily Laursen, a lead peer mentor who co-organized the Oregivers Service Project.

For the past two years, COVID-19 precautions caused the service event to be conducted over several weekends throughout the fall semester instead of all on the same day, Laursen said. This year was the first Fall Kick Off orientation program since 2019 that included the Oregivers Service Project.

“We wanted to bring it back to one day because [of] the camaraderie of having everybody at once just going out into Golden — just the mass chaos of service is pretty cool,” said Chase Campbell, the lead peer mentor who organized the event with Laursen.

This year’s projects included many diverse types of community service, including yard work, trash pickup, fence painting and more, Laursen said.

At the Golden Community Garden, students pulled weeds, prepared compost and poured gravel for new walkways.

“I see the kids — they are eager to do work, and it makes me so happy,” said Helga Youngman, a long-time gardener who helped supervise the students. “They’re hard workers, and it helps the community garden.”

Angelica Elliott, who leads volunteer garden workdays, said that she enjoys watching volunteers get excited as they learn about plants.

“The enthusiasm, it's always my favorite part,” she said. “It's seeing that they're enjoying it.”

On the other side of town, students worked with community members on landscaping and property rehabilitation projects at Harmony Village, a cohousing community dedicated to sustainable living.

Brenda Porter, a Harmony Village resident who organizes community workdays, said that she and her neighbors would be doing all of the work on their own on most workdays. But with the CSM students, they were able to complete more projects.

Barry Fischer, another Harmony Village community member, also expressed gratitude for the extra help.

“We’ve got just 27 houses here and only so many people that can work,” he said. “So when 50 or 60 people show up to help, or however many there are today, (we) get a lot of work done.”

Back on campus, some projects took place indoors to ensure the service day was accessible for students who could not do outdoor or labor-intensive service. Laursen said that one of these projects was decorating paper bags for the organization Project Angel Heart, which uses them to deliver meals to people living with severe illnesses.

Campbell said the most impactful part of his position was giving back to the Golden community.

“It’s what we say to the students to get them excited too, but just the idea of giving back to the community that we get to be a part of — the community that supports Mines and accepts having Mines here and is excited to have us,” he said. “It’s our time to give back.”

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