Numbers down, spirit not at 10K Hours

BY KATIE HEINE | APRIL 12, 2011 7:20 AM

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Neon glow sticks whipped across the IMU Ballroom as a crowd of people jumped to the beat of Kanye West’s “Homecoming.”

Around 50 University of Iowa students attended the 10,000 Hours concert, featuring DJ Earworm, at the IMU to celebrate the 13,844 volunteer hours logged. But despite a somewhat small attendance, organizers still called the night a success after a difficult year of planning.

And the concert was just part one of the celebration.

Students who volunteered at least 10 hours of their time will also be able to attend a carnival at Hubbard Park on April 17. For the first time, both events are open to the public.

For the past seven years, the 10K show has been limited to volunteers who clock at least 10 hours of service, said Molly McDonnell, the executive director of the 10K show. But the organization saw a “slump in numbers” of volunteers in the past few years and thought opening it up to everyone would spark more interest.

“We really want to get our name out there, reward our volunteers, and show people how much fun we have,” she said.

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Despite what McDonnell called a “tidal wave” of obstacles this year, the 21-year-old said she was still pleased with the end result. Getting people interested, finding an artist, and scheduling the event date were all difficulties the 10K planning committee faced this year.

Though attendance at the concert was somewhat small, the number of service hours was more than last year’s roughly 13,500.

McDonnell said organizers hope hosting two events will also help get their name on the radar and provide people with another chance to learn about volunteering opportunities, she said.

“We want to make sure we market ourselves for next year so people can see all the good we’re doing and know that volunteering is still important,” she said.

UI freshman Sophie Amado attended the concert after logging her 10 hours through two volunteering opportunities. The 18-year-old earned seven hours for volunteering as a dancer for Dance Marathon and logged the rest volunteering as a greeter at the IMU Art Gallery Black Box Theatre.

“Volunteering is important not only to benefit others but to learn about yourself and your community,” said Amado. “You learn about different people and the way they’re living.”

Nick Rolston has been actively involved with volunteering since high school, and he continues to volunteer his time in college.

The UI freshman logged all of his hours from serving on the volunteer committee for Dance Marathon. But the 19-year-old didn’t stop there. He also volunteered at Hope Lodge and the Ronald McDonald House, and joined a service fraternity on campus.

“All of us being in college are really blessed,” Rolston said. “We have a lot of privileges and opportunities — the least we can do is give back and help others.”

McDonnell said she understands it’s hard for students to consider volunteering among all their other obligations. But she said volunteering doesn’t have to be another item on their to-do list.

“[Volunteering] is something college kids can do to relax from everything and make a difference while doing it,” she said.

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