Incoming BHSU freshmen pay it forward with community service

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Spearfish, SD Incoming Yellow Jackets are making a difference in the Spearfish community this weekend.

Hundreds of new freshmen worked on community service projects.

They're crafting a smile for senior citizens.

Lexie Ellison, and incoming sophomore, said "To get involved and throw yourself out there and make a change in the world because we are the next generation and we're going to be the ones changing the world."

These students are going green - using recycled plastic bottles to make flower pots for seniors.

Chad Bischoff, a staff member at Black Hills State, said "The staff members there were super excited about it and they were kind of getting all the senior citizens hyped up about it as well. Sometimes they don't get as many visitors as maybe they should."

It's just one of a dozen volunteer projects across Spearfish, Saturday - from helping the Volunteer Fire Department, to walking dogs at the Humane Society.

Erica Whitiker, the coordinator of student engagement and programs at Black Hills State, said "We here at Black Hills State think that it is extremely important that we give back to our community and we want to start that with our incoming freshmen class."

It's all part of Freshmen Orientation Weekend - and the first time including community service.

Students move in before hitting the books Monday.

But before going to class - they are taught a lesson without their books.

Whitiker said "We want them to understand that they are part of a larger community."

And the lesson has more than one objective it helps grow friendships.

Ellison said "I didn't really know anyone here - I knew one person, so it was my way to really get out there to meet friends."

Lexie Ellison is an incoming sophomore - she's now involved with orientation and the Campus Activities Board.

Whitiker said "We made sure to pick projects where the students would have to work together and so we are instilling team work and team camaraderie."

Freshmen Orientation Weekend continues Sunday with the campus fair - bringing in student organizations and Spearfish businesses to welcome in the new class.