Students tackle cleanup duty and help the hungry
Editor's note: This article first appeared in the Journal Times of Racine Sunday, April 22. It was written by reporter Kristen Zambo.
Not too many people think about cleaning up and fighting hunger simultaneously.
Combining a food drive with an Earth Day cleanup project was a new concept for University of Wisconsin-Parkside senior Stephanie VanDerBunt, 21, of Pewaukee. But that unlikely coupling drew a host of college students to the Racine Zoo on Saturday to benefit the environment while participating in a two-county food drive.
"It's really cool. It's easy to partner them together," she said while raking sand at the zoo's southern playground.
Parkside students divided the work between more than a dozen project sites in Racine and Kenosha counties in honor of Earth Day, according to the university. One of these "hunger cleanup" sites was the Racine Zoo, 2131 N. Main St. Canned goods will be donated to the Racine County Food Bank and the Shalom Center of Kenosha.
VanDerBunt was one of nine members of Parkside's American Marketing Association to tackle the zoo's two playgrounds ? after donating canned goods.
"It's kind of the best of both (types of community service)," said marketing major Cristine Cristiano, 22, of Kenosha.
Today marks the 42nd annual Earth Day, which began in 1970. In the wake of that first Earth Day, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was created, which resulted later in the passage of the Clean Air and Clean Water acts.
"We just know that it is important to give back to the community we're going to be working in," said Cristiano, a Parkside senior and vice president of fundraising for the marketing association. "Plus it's fun. It's a really nice day."
Navy veteran Chris Deschler, 22, who grew up in Racine, said he loved being able to help his hometown community twice in one day.
"I haven't really been able to do much volunteer work. I decided it was time for me to start doing that again," he said.
Deschler, a freshman marketing major at Parkside, said he was in the Navy for four years, stationed part of that time aboard a submarine based in Washington state. He visited the zoo while growing up in Racine, the Oak Creek resident said, adding it has changed a lot since his last visit.
Saturday's hunger cleanup was the first Earth Day event for which VanDerBunt said she has volunteered. A marketing and sales major, VanDerBunt said she brought canned pumpkin and cans of beans and soup."It seemed like a good opportunity to get our name out there. You can make a difference in just three hours, and it's beautiful out," she said. "We donated can goods and stuff on our way here. We got free T-shirts. It's easy. It's something to give back."