Gumdrops By– Gannon Druessel

On January 17th, the Saluki Science Ambassadors (SSA) kicked off the semester by volunteering at a Gumdrops event. Gumdrops is an amazing non-profit charity in Carterville, Illinois. This charity provides at-risk children with backpacks containing a weekend’s worth of food. Their mission is to remove barriers to academic success for the at-risk children by providing them with the food they need, giving them one less thing to worry about. This charity feeds over 1,300 children every week. As a community outreach RSO, the SSA thought this was a perfect place to volunteer.

Helping at Gumdrops wasn’t only a way for us to get back into the swing of things, but also a great way to give back. At SSA, we strive to give back to the community as often as our busy schedules allow us. Another nice perk of the Gumdrops event was that it gave us an opportunity to spend time together as an RSO and get to know each other better. I’m proud of my team for growing closer as an organization while doing something positive, and it’s just another reason why I love SSA.

SSA spending their Wednesday helping kids in need

Pancake Breakfast By– Nate Lightle

       At the end of last school year, Dr. Spector announced she would be retiring after a successful career of changing the lives of countless Engineering students.  One of the most memorable ways she helped her students succeed was her Pancake Breakfasts before each exam.  The Sunday before an exam she would invite the whole class to come to the Necker’s study area to study the exam while she made us pancakes.  I always appreciated her doing this and was amazed by her ability to run the entire process of taking orders, making pancakes, and answering questions at the same time.  Dr. Spector inspired me to continue this practice for finals week.

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Rokenbok By– Andrew Paxton

      During the Martin Luther King Day project, I had the opportunity to work with a great team of both LDP members and another student to build a display, known as the Rokenbok case. This project used a series of interlocking cubes, Rokenbok, to construct a display for children visiting the Science Center to enjoy. The materials used were donated to the Science Center by a patron, who had saved them from being thrown out of a larger project that had no use for them anymore. Therefore, we were tasked with taking trash and turning it into treasure. Being new to these toys, I was unsure of how the project would go, but my team ended up having an exhausting, yet rewarding day.
       Starting at 6:00 A.M., my team quickly realized our task would be much more difficult than expected; for the case that would hold the display was larger than we had thought and the parts we had were fragile and limited in number. Continue reading

Martin Luther King Day Service Project By–Robbie Lozar-McDonald

        The MLK service project was a project that hit home for me. The last week of summer vacation, the LDP people came back early for Team Week and enjoyed multiple days of physically and mentally draining tasks. At the end of the week we spent two days at the Science Center and worked hard to better our community. The MLK project really touches home for me especially because during our service project at the Science Center during Team Week, I had a sense of lack-luster. I was tired both physically and mentally and allowed it to show. After that had happened, I was determined to get another shot at the Science Center, and that’s just what happened. The mentors in the group had seen my struggles from before and decided to have me organize the MLK Day service project in hopes that I would gain an understanding of the work that goes into planning an event of such magnitude. Continue reading

Moving a Wall By– Ryan Nick

       Following tradition, the LDP members volunteered their MLK holiday at Carbondale’s local Science Center. This year we had a range of projects to tackle such as, painting, assembling a Rockenbok display, decorating ceiling tiles, and I lead a team that was tasked with extending and relocating a wall. The task itself was not exceedingly difficult; however I was also very interested in ensuring everyone learned the skills required to do such a task. The LDP members come from all kinds of different backgrounds, we all share a major in the STEM field but have had different experiences throughout life that taught us an assortment of skills. I saw this project as an opportunity to accomplish two goals: one to help the Science Center by completing this task, and the other to allow members of my group to share and teach each other what they know about basic carpentry. Continue reading

American Red Cross By Venkat Ramana Reddy

After the Homecoming blood drive for on October 5th, I went to the student center and spoke to Jennifer Freeze from the American Red Cross. She said, all the three centers where they were conducting the blood drive (Student Center, Lenz Hall and Grinnell Hall) were filled with donors. I felt really happy hearing this from Jennifer because the blood which was collected on that day will save a lot of people who are fighting for their lives. I waited almost a month to find out that the Red Cross had collected 180 pints of blood, which is an awesome news and I was really happy.

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Trail building By Andrew Paxton

On November 5, many members of the LDP spent time at the SIU Touch of Nature Environmental Center to help maintain trails throughout the park. Along with our team, members of the Robotics Team joined to show their support for the community. In all, 12 people alongside the help of the kind employees at Touch of Nature were present for the service project. With a great team effort, we were able to fix a great length of the trails. Not only that, but because of the wonderful staff we were able to work with, we learned about the history of Touch of Nature, the ecology of the area, and its importance. After our 4-hour shift, we were treated to a delicious chili dinner, which brought a great close to the LDP Service Weekend. As the leader of trail building, I cannot express how grateful I am to have such a capable and willing team.

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LDP Service Weekend -By Gannon Druessel

Some might ask, how can you make a difference in just one weekend? Well, with a dedicated team who all work towards a common goal, greatness can be achieved. This past weekend, the LDP came together to volunteer at the Women’s Center. These projects not only built team cohesiveness while we all had fun, but also gave us an opportunity to give back to the community and help people who needed it the most.

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Vision for LDP Service Weekend – By Andrew Paxton

      One thing that we like to do in the LDP is give back. In past events, we’ve done things
for the science center, tree planting, Varsity theatre, etc. We do these events, not simply because we like them, but because once we’re finally done with a project, we can turn around and say “wow, we did a good thing”. We also do these projects, because they are a way for us to stay well rounded, and a way for us to further our connection as a team.

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Homecoming Blood Drive – By Venkat Ramana Reddy

     Back in my country, when my cousin was born there was an incident. As he was delivered the umbilical cord wasn’t tied properly and he got a blood infection. This infection spread through his blood and within a day of his birth the doctors’ said he would need a complete blood transfusion. His blood group was A+ and while it wasn’t rare, we had a lot of problems getting the blood in time to save his life. At last, we put an ad on TV and four men volunteered to help. This event inspired me to take up the Homecoming Blood Drive project. When my cousin’s life was saved, all I could think was “Tears of a mother cannot save her child, but someone’s blood can” and as important as donations are, the main point of the blood drive is to save the lives of victims effected in hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

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