They say the longest journeys begin with a single step. For Chelsea Halderman, the young chairwoman of the CBC blood drive Thursday, April 19 at Urbana University, a great journey began before she even got out of bed.
Chelsea was a graduate assistant at Urbana and had just been involved in two very successful fundraising walks for a local animal shelter. She wondered how she could reach out to other parts of the community that could use help, and get more UU students involved. “I was actually lying in bed,” she recalls, “and all of a sudden ‘Small Steps’ came into my head!”
Several small, but determined steps later, “Small Steps” is an active community service organization on the UU campus associated with the “Servant Leaders” scholarship program. Students who have earned community service scholarships will join Small Steps. UU also requires freshmen to take part in community service activities during their first weekend on campus, and that has served as opportunity for Small Steps to recruit new members.
Sophomore Taylor Denes was a Servant Leader scholar and is now a member of Small Steps. She donated at the blood drive and volunteered at the Donor Café. Sophomore Ryan Gresse, a childhood education major from Springfield is a Small Steps member and also came by the drive to donate. “It’s nice to give back to the community after what they give to us,” he said.
Chelsea Halderman, now an administrative counselor at UU, serves as the advisor to Small Steps while working on her M.B.A. Small Step members have fanned out to support a wide variety of community service projects, including pancake breakfasts and healthy eating days for children at a local shelter, a “Senior Citizen Prom” at a local care facility, and fundraising walks for the animal shelter.
“Basically, we’re building relationships between Urbana University and the community,” she said. “I think it’s really important for our students to find out what community service is, and find out there is something bigger than themselves out there.”
“I like going to the nursing homes and talking to people there,” said Small Steps member Heather Abdalla, a sophomore from Marysville as she chose a cookie at the Donor Café after her blood donation. “I want to do good in the community and I think a blood drive is important.”
For Chelsea and her fellow volunteers, sponsoring a CBC blood drive on campus was just another determined step forward for “Small Steps.”
“Each donation can save up three lives, so it’s a good thing to pursue,” she said. “Saving lives is a pretty big deal! Definitely, that’s a good cause.”