While collecting donations in the Wal-Mart parking lot, Circle K members heard a familiar excuse.
A woman assured the club members she’d go in to shop first and then come out with food to donate. Rachel Omofomah, a freshman communication major from Lagos, Nigeria and Circle K member, said although people normally use such a statement as an escape plan, the benefits of charity bring out the best in everyone.
“She actually came back with tons of stuff,” Omofomah said. “I was like, ‘Wow, who does that?’ I was so touched.”
Involved in various local projects, Dixie State University’s Circle K club and its members have put charity work before socials and activities. From collecting cans and selling Dixie Direct cards at St. George-area businesses, to cleaning Dixie Care and Share, members’ blush-inducing recounts of kindness aren’t just a once-a-year Christmas miracle, said Natasha Tiger, a freshman general education major from Las Vegas and Circle K communication director.
During the same drive, one of many the club held in November, Tiger said even less-fortunate people — those who Circle K’s efforts aim to aid — made sacrifices with improving the community in mind.
“We had this one lady [walk up], and she did pretty much everything,” she said. “She took out a 20 and put it in each of the buckets; she gave us money for our club. She bought a Dixie Direct [card]… It’s just great to see people actually want to be motivated to help us help people.”
The club’s community ties have allowed it to expand services beyond campus and to assist organizations like Dixie Care and Share with helping the less fortunate.
Jae Maxfield, Dixie Care and Share executive director, said 20,000 people in Washington County sit below poverty level — accounting for an estimated 5,000 families. Because of these numbers, Maxfield said extending volunteer opportunities to DSU students provides a much-needed experience for all.
“If you’re middle-class, what you tend to do is surround yourself with people who are middle-class,” he said. “…So you don’t necessarily [say], ‘I’ve got an afternoon, I think I’ll go down and hang out at the park and see if I can find some homeless people to visit with.’”
To see how others live, along with the positives giving back provides, has been vital to Circle K members, said Ariel Gutowski, a sophomore nursing major from Tooele and Circle K president. While cleaning the Care and Share building, Gutowski said she realized how well off most students are. Therefore, DSU students should make volunteering a priority.
Circle K encourages DSU students to join, but anyone can attend the group’s fundraisers and drives. With projects also promoting causes and bringing awareness to issues like texting and driving in the works, Gutowski said community and student support are essential. Teaming up with others who understand the value of community service is vital to any successful volunteer effort, she said.
Gutowski said Circle K members caught glimpses into the lives of community members who struggle to overcome financial obstacles each day while at Dixie Care and Share. Among the poverty-stricken and hard-working volunteers, the group’s bond strengthened.
Because of positive experiences in Circle K’s early endeavors, Kourtney Mcleod, a freshman communication major from Las Vegas and Circle K secretary, said the members, with similar goals, can motivate each other to spread the club’s impact and simple message: Helping community members in need develops student character and devotion.
“We all joined the club for a reason, which is to do community service,” Mcleod said. “So we have that connection already, since there’s a purpose that we’re here for.”
Now having utilized their passions for service to make a difference, Circle K members see nothing but expansion and a bit of well-deserved fun in the future.
Abigail Segner, a sophomore accounting major from Gilbert, Ariz., and Circle K member, said the group understands its goals and what each individual must do to achieve them. Because of this collaboration, striving to leave an impact on both DSU’s campus and the community brings more enlightenment than any activity can provide.
“This club is really cool because we make a difference,” she said. “It’s not mostly just for fun or entertainment…and I think that’s really important.”
To join Circle K or find out how you can help, contact Tiger at 702-343-7836 or visit Circle K’s Facebook page.