IC students’ class project gives back thousands to local nonprofits
Students in Adam Jones’ fall small group communication course donated 741 service hours and $3,781.52, including more than $1,000 in food donations, to Jacksonville-area nonprofits.
For the last 10 years, the associate professor of communication and rhetorical studies has taught a course that gives students a capstone assignment of identifying and researching a significant, current and local problem that requires community action. Over the course of the semester, they work in groups to describe the problem, identify those who are most affected by it and partner with a local nonprofit or charitable organization to help address it. According to Jones, the students typically raise between $1,500 and $3,000 and contribute 600-700 service hours as part of the project.
Each group during the fall course completed both a service project coordinated with the nonprofit organization and a fundraising campaign conducted solely by the group members. The organizations included the Jacksonville Dream Center Foundation, Jacksonville Area Community Food Center, Morgan County Animal Control, PAWS (Protecting Animal Welfare Society) and Toys for Tots. The donated funds were given to the organizations at the end of the semester during the students' final presentations.
Delani Dillard ’22 was part of the group that raised $882 for Morgan County Animal Control. Dillard’s group raised money for supplies and vaccinations for the animals and raised awareness about the agency’s role in the community.
“All in all, I'm so grateful for the opportunity Professor Jones’ class provided me,” she said. “It taught me a lot about adversity, professionalism and how to work with people. The class and working with Morgan County Animal Control changed me as a student and as a member of the Jacksonville community.”
“It taught me a lot about adversity, professionalism and how to work with people. The class and working with Morgan County Animal Control changed me as a student and as a member of the Jacksonville community.”
Jones said the project allows students to apply the concepts, theories and definitions taught in the classroom, which enhances their learning in rich and meaningful ways. Dillard, a business administration and communication and rhetorical studies major, saw that the payoff wasn’t just for her grade. Knowing that her work would help others made her passionate about the project, she said, adding, “I noticed that throughout the course of the semester I became more and more devoted to what I was raising money for and the papers I was writing about it.”
Reagan Gifford ’22 and Spencer Bloome ’21 worked with Toys for Tots, raising $670.58. Bloome, a communication and rhetorical studies and art and design in visual studies major, said the experience was one of the most beneficial he has had so far in a class at IC.
“I got to see the behind the scenes for how these organizations go about helping people. It gave us an insight on how much time, effort and materials are needed for these organizations to help out. We also got to work with the families that were being helped,” he said. “It really makes you grateful for the things that you have in your life.”
Gifford, a business administration and communication and rhetorical studies major, said the Toys for Tots group also worked to raise money and awareness — putting up flyers, sending mass emails and working at basketball games, among other efforts. When they helped parents and guardians pick out toys for the children, it was easy to see the impact of their work in the smiles on the faces of those the organization was helping. She said the class was an “eye-opener about how much Jacksonville cares for its people” — something she admires about the community — and it brought her closer to the community.
“It helped me to see that I chose the right major and that Illinois College is not only focused on making its own community a better place, but also making the city a better place and getting its students real life experience."
“It helped me to see that I chose the right major and that Illinois College is not only focused on making its own community a better place, but also making the city a better place and getting its students real life experience,” she said. “The communication and rhetorical studies program not only gives the students here at IC textbook knowledge, but also knowledge about working with those around you in real-world experiences and solving real world problems.”
To learn more about how your organization can partner with Illinois College students on a service-learning project, contact Ryan Flynn at 217.245.3630 or firstname.lastname@example.org.