Get in the Circle

The idea of community service can be a little intimidating for a college student, and Circle K understands. Sure, the concept—dedicating time, money, or energy to a selfless cause—sounds great, but time, money, and energy are commodities students often run short on. And finding motivation to serve can be a challenge, too.

Hoisting hardware

But UIndy’s chapter of Circle K is redefining what it means to serve, and its members have the hardware to prove it: UIndy’s chapter has been named Distinguished Club for the state of Indiana.Affiliated with Kiwanis International, Circle K is the world’s premier collegiate service and leadership development organization. (You may be familiar with Key Club, which is the organization’s high school affiliate.) Circle K’s members are students who have realized that being in Indianapolis makes them a part of a larger community beyond the UIndy campus, and that serving in that community doesn’t have to be a chore.

“Circle K is different because we don’t have just one target audience,” said senior Michelle Burke, last year’s Circle K president. “We focus on anybody and everybody who needs a little help. As a college student, I don’t have the financial means to give back by donating money, but I can easily donate an hour a week, or two, or three. It’s so rewarding.”

The members of Circle K at UIndy participate in such weekly service activities as providing child care services at a shelter for families who struggle with homelessness.

Putting up big numbers

The students also take part in special events, like the Super Saturday for Service and the Great UIndy Clean-Up.

There’s no minimum obligation for hours, yet the club’s more than 50 members completed a total of more than 2,500 hours of community service last school year.

The new president, junior Calley Cook, is hopeful about the future.

“High expectations have been set for me,” Calley said. “We have plans to not only be a part of many of the same service projects that we participated in this year, but also to join with some new organizations to help our community in different ways next year.

“The best part about Circle K is seeing the impact that we make on our community and the people in it.

“Knowing that we make such a big difference makes all the hard work worth it!”

The social side

Circle K also has benefits beyond the personal rewards of service.

“We’ve built friendships among the group,” Michelle said. “It’s almost like a mentoring program. You really get to know the people you’re volunteering with. Also, because we’re affiliated with Kiwanis, we have adult mentors as well who are willing to help us out in any way possible.”

And about that hardware: in addition to being honored as Distinguished Club, UIndy Circle K was named tops among the state’s 18 chapters in several categories, taking home 14 of a possible 31 awards at the District Convention.

“It was quite an honor, especially since UIndy competes with all of the state schools and the University of Notre Dame,” said club adviser Libby Davis, assistant director of Career Services at UIndy. “It warmed my heart to hear ‘University of Indianapolis’ spoken so many times throughout the evening.”