(Above) Participants take advantage of the “Free Your Mind” coloring event organized as the service learning portion of an English 1301 class at Spring Creek Campus.

The murmur of the crowd in the Spring Creek Campus atrium was loud enough that Rebecca Landry had to raise her voice slightly to be heard.

“I do Meals on Wheels every year with my dad, but this project is something I really loved doing, so along with that tradition, I think I may start doing this,” Landry said. “It was awesome!”

The second-year Collin College student was discussing her Service Learning project with Allen Community Outreach, packing holiday staples into bags and donor packets with information. A display set up behind her illustrated the work she’d done alongside other students, with a photo of hundreds of food bags lining a shelf and a list of the services available to people Allen and the surrounding cities.

While Landry noted that she has volunteered before, this was not just about feeling good. It was also part of a commitment to Service Learning, a program at Collin College that asks research a community need, partner with a service organization, and apply academic learning objectives in a service project that meets that real community need.

The idea is to help students learn by doing for others, helping foster a sense of civic responsibility that they can carry with them throughout their academic career and beyond. And doing the work helps the students develop social and practical skills while applying academic learning objectives from the course they are taking. The projects are tied into a credit-bearing course and are guided by faculty. Landry was serving the organization as a Service Learning component for the Minority Studies class she’d taken in the fall.

Landry’s display was one of a couple dozen surrounding the atrium fountain, covering Service Learning work in several fields. Students from all of Collin College’s campuses take part in Service Learning and present their findings at Reflections events at the end of each semester.

Around the corner from Landry, Xzavian Hines discussed his time with Conversation Partners, a group discussion program that allows non-native speakers to develop their English skills.

“Most of it was just setting a comfortable atmosphere and making them as comfortable as possible,” he said, but added that he could see it helping the people in his group.

Hines said he learned about other cultures as well, talking about prescribed topics including marriage, social media and the recent election. He said before the Service Learning project, he had never heard of some of the home countries of people in his group.

Nearby, Andrew Soto, a first-year student was telling people about his class’s project providing coloring book pages for students to use for relieving stress prior to finals. The professor asked the students to bring ideas and they settled on coloring, then did research on the effects of coloring on stress relief.

“We figured that if we could give them a mandala or something else to color, it might trick their minds into focusing on something else and not worrying as much about finals,” he said. “As finals are coming up, a lot of students are stressed out.”

The coloring session, which was held the next day did a brisk business.

Other Service Learning projects at Collin College include the U.S. History Project documenting the experiences of veterans, the Rowlett Tornado Disaster Response observing the sociology of disaster and the rebuilding of communities, and the study of microbiology through the efforts of students in cleaning up city waterways.

To learn more about Service Learning, contact the Center for Scholarly and Civic Engagement at csce@collin.edu, visit www.collin.edu/academics/servicelearning or call 972.881.5927.