Murray State has announced the winner of the Challenge for Change competition, a competition not based on points, but the number of hours students collectively volunteered.
Challenge for Change, a competition between Eastern Kentucky University, Morehead State University and Murray State, was held Jan. 11 through Feb. 7.
With 13,500.75 volunteer hours reported, Murray State claimed first place in the fifth annual Challenge for Change. Morehead State followed in second place with 3,654.5 hours with Eastern Kentucky coming in third with a reported zero hours.
Challenge for Change was originally a competition between Eastern Kentucky and Morehead State, and was a way to encourage students to build up volunteer hours and to showcase student service through friendly competition between schools.
The challenge is held every year at the beginning of the spring semester to honor Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy of community service.
Student Government Association President Jeremiah Johnson said the two schools invited Murray State to participate two years ago, and Morehead State, who initiated the challenge, is looking to possibly extend it to the other OVC schools.
While the challenge is a competition for a trophy, Johnson said it is about more than winning and beating the other universities.
“It’s not something to put emphasis on for competition, but for collecting hours,” he said. “I don’t want it to be an event we are doing just because we are competing with other universities. In my opinion, you do community service to help other people, not to compete and make yourself look better.”
Murray State collected three times as many volunteer hours this year as last year. The 10,000 hour difference is due to a new website called Get Connected at volunteer.murraystate.edu, which helps students find places to volunteer within the community.
Johnson said the Get Connected program through United Way helps students find somewhere to volunteer, whether at the animal shelter, hospital or with a Greek organization.
Sophomore Lindsey Powers from Cincinnati, Ohio, is one of the students who spent time earning hours for Challenge for Change.
Powers and 13 of her Kappa Delta sisters went to Weaks Community Center to spend time helping out in various ways.
“We painted office spaces and cleaned their vehicles, which are used to pick up senior citizens and bring them to the center,” Powers said. “We also cleaned the local Red Cross emergency vehicles.”
With a total of five and a half hours of volunteer service at the community center, Powers and the other 12 women contributed approximately 71 hours of work to Challenge for Change.
Powers said she believes the competition is a good way to motivate people to volunteer. However, she said, in the end the lives that are changed through volunteering helps to make the trophy more worthwhile.
“The best part was being able to dance with a few of the older women at the center during one of their classes,” she said. “Being able to laugh with them and make them smile made all the hard work we did worth every minute.”
After holding onto the trophy for four consecutive wins, Morehead State will relinquish the trophy to Murray State, and it will be presented to the student body in late March by Johnson.
With an estimated $12 general volunteer rate and the three universities contributing a total of 17,364.55 volunteer hours, the combined economic impact on Kentucky was estimated to be $208,368.
Story by Mary Bradley, Staff writer