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Giving something back

In the past several years, Daniels College of Business students have contributed more than 100,000 volunteer hours to the community through DU's GIVE program. Photo: Michael Richmond

Lareesa Tompkins, an MBA candidate at DU’s Daniels College of Business, earned her undergraduate degree in cello performance at Eastern Washington University. Her hands are used to subtle bow strokes and the soft touch of strings.

But recently, Tompkins donned plastic gloves and went on “gum patrol” at the Johnson Branch of the Metro Boys and Girls Club. Gum patrol includes a trashcan and a can of something she calls “gum freeze.” Meanwhile, other MBA candidates were vacuuming, painting, scouring, and decorating as part of an event they called “Scrub-a-Club.”

Tompkins and her classmates are members of GIVE (Graduates Involved in Volunteer Efforts), which has committed more than 100,000 volunteer hours to the Denver metro community since the group’s founding at Daniels in 1998. GIVE’s four-person leadership panel organizes meetings for volunteers, works with nonprofit organizations and plans outreach events.

When these future business leaders take on a task, they start to look more like social workers or PTA members.

“We hold bake sales to raise money,” says Tompkins, who is the group’s secretary. “We typically raise about $125.”

So far this school year, GIVE has held two bake sales, one for Halloween and one for Valentine’s Day. The funds went straight to GIVE efforts such as an annual Halloween party for 150 kids at the Bridge Project (a youth education initiative of DU’s Graduate School of Social Work). This year, nearly 100 graduate students showed up in costumes and “took over,” says Bridge Project Program Director Bruce Morgan.

“They show up early, get the place ready, decorate, play with all of the kids who arrive then clean up and vacuum,” he says. “All I have to do is open the doors.”

Morgan says that without GIVE’s efforts, he could not host such a big party.

“The GIVE volunteers bring tons of candy, pumpkins and do face painting,” Morgan adds. “If we had to do this without their help … there are only five of us working here. We just couldn’t do something this big.”

Tompkins knows that business students don’t typically have a reputation as “touchy feely,” but she thinks GIVE’s mission goes right to the heart of the education she is receiving at Daniels.

“There is such a strong focus on ethics here,” she says. “We are all getting a master’s, preparing to go out and become managers and leaders in organizations. It is our responsibility to carry the foundation of ethics that we are taught here at Daniels. GIVE provides an opportunity to get started with ethical volunteering.”

MBA student Patrick Quigney learned about GIVE during his orientation last fall and decided it would be a good way to maintain balance in his life.

“Balance is big for me,” says Quigney, who helped at the Scrub-a-Club event by painting over scuffmarks on the walls. “It’s all about maximizing your time with school, internships, social life and work. I wanted to find time to volunteer, and it’s not that hard to dedicate a Saturday morning once every quarter.”

He twirls a paintbrush in his hands, smiling. “I’ll be hitting the books tonight, though.”

Both Tompkins and Quigney agree that the best part of GIVE’s outreach efforts is working with kids.

“It’s a lot of fun to interact with the kids and to really feel like you make a difference,” Quigney says. “In a way, it feels kind of selfish. It makes me feel like a better person.”

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