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SSWO: Doing good works throughout North Dakota

The Minot State University Student Social Work Organization promotes social work as a specialized profession, but SSWO is open to all students, not just MSU or social work students. Its members are doing "good works" across North Dakota.

To commemorate MSU's Centennial Celebration, SSWO groups in Bismarck, Dickinson, Minot and Fargo participated in "Hands Across North Dakota," as a Power of 100 service project. Each location collected 100 pairs of new mittens or gloves to distribute at sites in each city.

Bismarck, Dickinson and Minot were Freezin' for a Reason as part of the National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week in November. Participants stood in the cold and "froze" to experience homelessness firsthand and accumulate food, nonperishable items or monetary contributions for charitable causes.

The Bismarck branch collected $1,080 and 1,500 pounds of goods for Missouri Valley Coalition for Homeless People, Inc. Through the Volunteer Caregiver Exchange, SSWO-Bismarck completed Cleaning with Meaning, where volunteers cleaned four elderly people's homes. The Bismarck branch also collected more than 750 books for Operation Need to Read, a book drive for children from low-income families. SSWO-Bismarck sponsored lectures on health topics, such as mental health, nutrition, physical health and recreation and spiritual health, in an effort to promote self-care as a way to prevent social worker "burn out."

The Dickinson branch raised $233 for the Domestic Violence Center during its Freezin for a Reason. The center also serves as a homeless shelter for women and children. The members collected hats and gloves for Head Start, food items for Amen Food Pantry and clothing for House of Manna.

The Minot branch accrued $800 and 2,740 pounds of food for Minot Area Homeless Coalition during Freezin' for a Reason. The organization participated in Halloween at the Dome as means of providing a safe, family-orientated event for area children. SSWO-Minot also coordinated Take Back the Night on MSU's campus. Throughout the year, the group joins several awareness walks.

The Fargo branch raised nearly $600 for the local homeless coalition by observing National Homeless and Hunger Awareness Week with its annual One-Day-Without-A-Home event. Bake sale proceeds of $100 went to the Got Milk fundraiser, which supplies schools with free/reduced cost milk for low-income children at breakfast and lunch. SSWO-Fargo's members are students enrolled in a dual degree program between MSU's social work program and North Dakota State University's human development family science program.

The SSWOs will continue their work into the spring semester with symposiums and service projects.