MSA helps out Ronald McDonald house

Amber Kispert

Volunteering is often considered its own reward, but the Minnesota Student Association is giving students a little something extra with their Lend a Hand, Hear the Band concert.

MSA recently teamed up with the Ronald McDonald House Charities to offer students an opportunity to gain volunteer hours.

on the web

For more information about the program and where students can record their volunteer hours, go to www.lendahandheartheband.org For more information about the Ronald McDonald house, go to www.rmhc.org.

Any volunteer hours acquired since Sept. 1 and any hours spent helping student groups will be counted toward the 10 hours required for a concert ticket.

MSA Vice President Ross Skattum said he is excited about the partnership with the RMHC.

“It’s an amazing facility and the work they do is really amazing for the kids,” he said. “We’re just trying to get closer links between the community in the Twin Cities and the University.”

The relationship between MSA and the RMHC began in November when MSA President Emma Olson pitched the idea to Josh Williams, marketing and communications manager for the RMHC.

“We’re always looking for something like this to get involved with the student body,” said Williams. “We’re always looking for a great connection with the students.”

Lend a Hand, Hear the Band is a great way to get students involved, he said.

“Students want to see live music because that’s a big part of campus life,” he said. “So being able to couple that with volunteering is a fantastic idea.”

Katie Dahill, director of volunteer services for the RMHC, will be working closely with MSA to establish the volunteer opportunities for students.

Students will be assisting with household maintenance tasks, such as cleaning toys and washing windows, Dahill said.

“We’re really interested in seeing how it all comes together,” she said.

There will be a cap on the number of students allowed to volunteer because it is such a small organization and because it can be overwhelming for the families, Dahill said.

“It is a home away from home for traveling families,” she said. “It’s kind of overwhelming to have an influx of unfamiliar faces.”

What was once a run-down, eight bedroom fraternity house in 1979 has become a flourishing 48-bedroom facility, Williams said.

“Often times it’s almost like a small town here,” he said.

The average stay for families at the RMHC is 53 days. The majority of the children undergo treatment at Fairview Health Services and Children’s of Minnesota.

MSA offers other opportunities for students to rack up hours.

“Given that ours is a smaller program, they’ll maybe do a fill-in around the edges with us,” Dahill said.

MSA is also sponsoring two blood drives, one today from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. in the Armory and another to be held in March.

Any student who donates blood will receive two hours worth of community service.

United Way is also working with MSA, after donating $10,000 to the project earlier this year.

Currently, MSA has a little more than half of the money raised for the concert, which will cost around $70,000, overall.

Some of the $70,000 will go toward paying the band, renting equipment and actually flying the band to the concert.

In the coming months, MSA will be approaching various corporations for grants and donations, Skattum said.

“It’s going to happen no matter what, somehow we’ll find that money,” he said.

The Lend the Hand, Hear the Band concert is scheduled for April 10, in Northrop Auditorium.

Volunteer hours will be collected until April 1 and MSA will start handing out tickets a week prior to the concert.

John Sharkey, MSA at-large representative to the executive board, is working with Skattum on the concert and has taken on the responsibility of booking the band. (Sharkey is a Daily columnist.)

MSA is still in the process of negotiating the contract with Northrop and the band, so the name can’t be released yet, Sharkey said.

Skattum said he is very excited about the concert and has high hopes of reaching their goal of 45,000 hours.

“I think people are going to be really happy with the band,” he said. “It’s not U2 or anything, but I think it’s going to be pretty good.”