Mount Marty College Campus Ministry Travels to Texas for Christmas Service Trip

January 23, 2017

Jennifer Bondurant | Catchphrase Communications

Mount Marty College students and the campus ministry team volunteered with Catholic Charities of Texas for their Annual Winter Service Project from Dec. 30 to Jan. 6.

YANKTON — During the recent winter break, 11 Mount Marty College (MMC) students and the Campus Ministry team of Sr. Maribeth Wentzlaff and Jordan Foos traveled to Dallas for a service trip under the auspices of Catholic Charities of Texas. While there, the MMC team participated in several projects for the outreach site of Catholic Charities, including organizing Catholic Charity’s immigrant and refuge donation center, aiding the adoption and pregnancy center and assisting with office work. The group also spent time at the Brady Center, a senior city center near downtown Dallas, and packed food at the North Texas Food Bank warehouse. The final day was spent organizing a children’s library at the Santa Clara Community Center, a location where non-English speakers take ESL courses while having childcare provided.

“Not only did the students provide their energy, time and efforts, but they also had to provide a financial contribution to attend,” says Sr. Maribeth Wentzlaff, director of Campus Ministry. “This speaks loudly of the generosity of this generation and their desire to serve strangers and those in need.”

MMC has provided service experiences for students, faculty and staff since 2003, with previous trips being taken to Kentucky; Mississippi; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Joplin, Missouri; Oklahoma; Texas; and Florida. This year’s winter service trip, held Dec. 30 to Jan. 6, included 11 MMC students: Kim Schneider, Makala Fahrenholz, Kiley Burggraff, Jeremy Behrends, Gabe Goehring, Bobbi Soukup, Katie Hamil, Maria Olson, Jaycie Culbert, Sam Boomgarden and Abby Keffeler.

This was the second MMC service trip for Abby Keffeler, a junior graphic design major. Although she enjoyed all of the trip’s service opportunities, she says she found their time spent at the Brady Center particularly rewarding.

“It was all really rewarding for me, but being able to interact with some of the senior citizens was a highlight,” she says. “A lot of them were immigrants or refugees from other countries, so just getting the chance to sit with them and hear about their stories and their lives since they’ve been in America was really cool.”

Gabe Goehring, a senior exercise wellness major, agrees.

“I enjoyed just being able to spend time with them and talk to them,” he says. “Some were refugees, some war veterans — hearing their stories was probably my favorite part of the whole trip.”

In addition to their service work experiences, students also enjoyed a couple days of learning excursions. On the way to Texas, the group stopped at the Oklahoma City National Memorial, site of the Oklahoma City bombing. In Dallas, they visited the Texas School Book Depository Museum, site of the J.F.K. assassination; the Dallas World Aquarium; Freedmen's Cemetery; and the Six Falls Over Dallas amusement park. They also met with the Dallas Police Department, who spoke of the police shootings on July 8, 2016, and shared insights about Dallas regarding aspects such as race, poverty and immigration.

“These winter break service trips are about more than just service to others,” says Foos, Assistant Director of Campus Ministry. “They are meant to give students a cultural and education experience about life in various parts of our country.”

Working with MMC’s mission to “prepare students for a contemporary world of work, service to the human community and personal growth,” the winter service trips aim to offer students a broader sense of community that extends beyond the MMC campus.

“The goal of the trip is that our students will experience all levels of this mission and become even better contributing members to society,” Sr. Maribeth says.

It’s a goal the students have taken to heart.

“I’ve been on quite a few service projects, and I always find that when you give your time to help others, you usually end up growing a lot yourself,” Goehring says. “Then when you can take what you’ve learned and bring that back to our community in Yankton, it’s a pretty powerful thing.”

“Helping people — you can’t put a price on that,” Keffeler adds. “There was someone in our group who bought a homeless man tacos one day for lunch. Yes, it was $5 for a few tacos, but seeing the connection they made while they sat together and had a conversation was priceless. Helping those who are underprivileged can give you far more reward than the time or money you spend.”

To learn more about service and outreach opportunities at Mount Marty College, contact the Campus Ministry team at dept.campusministry@mtmc.edu or visit mtmc.edu/campus-life/campus-ministry.

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Founded in 1936 by the Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery, Mount Marty College is a Catholic, Benedictine school of higher education located along the bluffs of the Missouri River in Yankton, South Dakota, with additional locations in Watertown and Sioux Falls. Mount Marty offers undergraduate and graduate degrees with particular focus on student and alumni success in high-demand fields. To learn more, visit mtmc.edu.