By Ken de la Bastide
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. — For the past five years Anderson University students have been sprucing up the city through the Operation Foundation program.
Jennie McMullen, a student at AU and director of Operation Foundation, said 325 students volunteered this month to pick up trash, rake leaves, paint, mend fences and clean up the hiking and biking trails.
Mayor Kevin Smith presented the students with a Community Service Award on Wednesday.
“The program started in 2007 when a student saw a need in Anderson,” McMullen said. “Where she was from there was an Operation Foundation program and she wanted to bring it to Anderson.”
She said the program is meant to create a relationship between the city and Anderson University.
“We believe in the city,” she said. “We see what the city can be again.”
Stephanie Moran, director of the Community Partnership Center at AU, said the students spent hundreds of hours providing community service.
“It’s an incredible opportunity for students to learn about community service,” she said. “We hope to see the collaboration with Anderson increase over the next few years. We want to open more pathways with the city.”
Moran said the students were hoping to build trust with the city residents to help one another.
Smith said the city administration appreciated the efforts by the students.
“You have identified areas in the city that needed attention,” he said.
McMullen said that through Operation Foundation she learned about the many trails that were available in Anderson. She said some of the trails are not well-known by the public.
Joshua Smith, a senior from Lima, Ohio, said Anderson’s downtown has a lot to offer.
“It’s a pretty area,” he said. “It should be maintained.
“Residents should take pride in being from Anderson,” Joshua Smith said. “I’ve been here for four years and have developed a sense of pride in the city. This is a great place to live.”
He said he has grown to consider Anderson as his home.
“This is home for me,” he said. “I wanted to give back to the community.”
Logan Hansen, a senior from Cincinnati, said since moving to Anderson he has learned about Anderson and its history.
“It’s been a journey of personal discovery,” he said.
Mayor Smith said there seems to be an attitude of hope among city residents, an observation that was endorsed by the students.
Several students noted the opening of new small businesses in Anderson including MUGS in Edgewood and Buckskin Bikes. Both businesses have been opened by AU graduates.
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 640-4863.