UW-Fox programs benefit community

Community Involvement
Many summer programs for area youth are offered at UW-Fox’s Barlow Planetarium. · photo by Vinnie Oestreich

Many psychology and sociology professors at UW-Fox give students assignments or extra credit that require students to volunteer and see volunteer programs work behind the scenes. Students may substitute a project for volunteer work, or receive extra-credit by using this opportunity and writing a paper detailing their experiences. Curriculum involvement in the community is just one of many ways in which the campus is involved with the Fox Cities community.

Scholarships from the university often originate because benevolent families and businesses within the community want to make a difference, and help those who desire a higher education. As educational resources go, these benefits support many students by helping make what are often threadbare financial ends meet.

“At any university, the scholarships are an enormous help by providing opportunities to those who maybe wouldn’t get a shot at college otherwise. A huge portion of my schooling was paid for by scholarships. I couldn’t have made it through without them,” Chyanne Schaut, a senior at UW Oshkosh, said.

Yet, the campus’ stellar community involvement doesn’t stop there. Fox has many other areas in which it accommodates the citizens of our community, and is proud to extend a hand to those who need support and resources. One such program, sponsored on campus by the Sociology Club this semester, is a drive for toiletries and hygiene products to help the homeless in our area who may have limited access to such items. Several boxes have been set up around campus for donations.

UW-Fox also participates in Adopt a Family at Christmas time through the Salvation Army, and have adopted families among students and staff to make their holidays a little brighter.

“UW-Fox has a good reputation of being involved in the community, and also trying to take care of our own family here on campus,” Associate Professor of Sociology Greg Peter said.

Several local organizations participate with UW-Fox and are happy to have the extra help. St. Joseph Food Program and Riverview Gardens are among the many places where students can lend a helping hand.

Another example of UW-Fox’s commitment to the betterment of those in the community is their hosting of this year’s Operation Cinderella on campus. This little-known community resource provides teen girls from various local high schools all the amenities needed to attend prom, including formal dresses, accessories and services for their big day. Many high school girls who could not afford to attend prom, due to its considerable cost, are now able to attend. Donations of formal wear and costume jewelry are always appreciated.

“It was awesome to find out I was picked for Operation Cinderella at my school. My family is poor, and we’ve been through some rough times lately. I would never have been able to go to prom otherwise. It’s just such a big help to me and takes a lot of stress about the whole thing off my mom,” Kalista Vandaalwyk, a junior at Kaukauna High School, said.

Another way UW-Fox shines is through the Barlow Planetarium. The Planetarium holds awesome star and light shows almost daily that serve multiple segments of our community, including many of the community’s local schools.

The planetarium also assists our community’s youth in learning more about the stars, by offering various theme nights, as well as summer camps for children. Several different camps are offered. “Graduates” of these camps may return as camp counselors, mentoring younger students.

“We had a girl, Sarah, who attended the camp for several years, and came back as an employee of sorts in the summers. It was neat to see her grow and mature into a super person,” Alan Peche, director of the Barlow Planetarium, said.

Many students at UW-Fox are unaware of the extent of community involvement. While they are aware of the scholarships, many overlook some of the campus’ bigger resources, such as its bi-annual picnic, in which various organizations set up tables, allowing students to try on various vocational hats by volunteering.

However, there is a lack of knowledge by students about possibilities for their help within the community, as well as ways Fox assists the community. This may be because while students get emails about campus events, there isn’t much advertising on campus.

“I’m really not aware of a lot [of community involvement] going on around campus. Maybe they need to have a big board somewhere where students can see what’s going on. I work a lot so I wasn’t able to attend the school picnics and that kind of stuff,” Freshman Nikki Titel said.