A group of Dakota Wesleyan University students channeled their competitive spirits for a class project that gave back to the community in a big way.
As Camden Berndt, a sophomore at DWU, hustled across the city of Mitchell on Tuesday evening, going door-to-door with his classmates asking community members for donations that will be given to the Salvation Army, he was one of 10 students competing in the "Bigger and Better" drive.
"This is a great way to give back to the people in this community, because they support us in many ways," Berndt said. "Giving back to the less fortunate is something our class values."
The project was created in DWU Professor Alisha Vincent's Leadership and Vocation class, in which students came up with the idea to split into two groups and divide the city of Mitchell to compete for collecting the most valuable donations. The game rules were created by the students, as the goal is to receive donations ranging from used household items to clothes and money that are bigger and better than the previous donation.
Berndt said Vincent came up with the project idea based on how competitive the group of students that make up the class are.
"We did a couple competition based projects in the past, and we found we are all very competitive," Berndt said of his classmates. "We thought it would be a great way to use our competitive nature to give back to people in need."
During the two-hour competition, group members knocked on doors and explained the most recent donation, giving each household an opportunity to donate something bigger and better than the last.
Sam Kretschmar, a junior majoring in agriculture business, is always looking for ways to show his support for the community that he said supports him on and off the football field.
"I love talking to people in the community, and I love seeing some of the same people we've seen tonight at our games," Kretschmar said, after receiving a $10 donation from a community member.
According to Kretschmar, the groups were divided based on each classmate's personality. As a member of the football team, Kretschmar fittingly found himself in a group made up of all athletes, which also included DWU baseball player Tyler Torres.
Torres is a California native studying sports exercise at DWU, and he's had the opportunity to connect with the community he is still getting familiar with.
"These types of projects really help me get to know the town better, and it's been great seeing how supportive the fans are," Torres said of the Mitchell community.
At 8:30 p.m., the groups met at DWU's campus and stacked their items up against each other, where the winner was decided on which group collected donations with the most value.
"I'm thankful to go to college in a town that shows so much support," Torres said.