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Tech students ‘Make a Difference’ in their adopted community

(Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette) Jacob Allen, a Blue Key member and third-year electrical engineering student at Michigan Technological University, pulls weeds at Grace United Methodist Church Saturday as part of Tech's 13th annual Make a Difference Day.

HOUGHTON — Instead of sleeping in on a rainy Saturday, more than 500 Michigan Technological University students planted flowers, helped out at the Lake Superior Performance Rally and joined in on other projects as part of Tech’s 13th annual Make a Difference Day.

“I love having a day where I can give back with all of my fellow students,” said Amanda Moya, a fifth-year mechanical engineering student. “You can do that by yourself, and to show up here and see the whole community coming together, I think that’s a special thing.”

Tech’s Student Leadership and Involvement Office and Husky Helpers coordinate with service locations and agencies that need volunteers, including Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly and the beautification committees of Hancock and Houghton. When students come back in the fall, Tech starts marketing to get students registered, said Beka Horsch, coordinator for student leadership and involvement at Tech.

“Then we spend that time matching up groups to the needs of the different service locations,” she said.

Seventy-five of the students volunteered with the City of Houghton. Near the Dee, volunteers had planted 350 bulbs, said coordinator Allison Waara.

(Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette) Michigan Technological University students Daniel Griffin, Katy Poich, Megan Brinker and Alethia Bell plant flowers Saturday as part of Tech’s Make a Difference Day. Their group planted 100 tulip and daffodil bulbs.

“It creates beauty,” she said. “We may not see the beauty now, but we’ll see it when it starts to bloom, and know we did that.”

At Grace United Methodist Church in Houghton, Blue Key students planted trees and flowers and pulled weeds. The group goes out to a different site each year, said president Clara Peterson. Students heard about the history of the church, and the repairs needed at the church.

“I like to take advantage of the opportunity to give back and make a difference in the world,” said Blue Key member Jacob Allen, a third-year electrical engineering major. “It rained a little bit, but it didn’t stop us too much.”

The student volunteers have been a boon to Grace United over the years, said Pastor Chuck Williams.

“We have some people who are elderly and can’t do that type of work anymore,” he said. “The other ones are younger and are tied up with their family. So it makes a really great opportunity to do things that we can’t otherwise get done very easily.”

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