Iowa Wesleyan class puts class lessons to work with service

Students in Joy Lapp’s ethics class are putting their studies to good use by providing a helping hand to community members. Students are available to help with chores and yard work when requested. (Contributed photo)
Students in Joy Lapp’s ethics class are putting their studies to good use by providing a helping hand to community members. Students are available to help with chores and yard work when requested. (Contributed photo)

MT. PLEASANT — There’s more to Dr. Joy Lapp’s ethics class than reading Emmanuel Kant or learning about utilitarianism.

As part of her fall class at Iowa Wesleyan University, Lapp’s students are putting what they’ve learned about living a virtuous life to practice by lending a helping hand in the community.

“How do we apply ethics to the concerns of our lives and the concerns of society? As ethical people, we want to be involved in making our communities a better place so that’s kind of the goal,” Lapp said.

Students in her class will respond to any requests for help including raking leaves, cleaning gutters, mowing lawns and other yard work.

The service component of Lapp’s class is a common part of many classes at the university.

“Iowa Wesleyan has been a real leader in including service as part of the curriculum,” Lapp said. Iowa Wesleyan students are required to take a certain amount of classes with a service learning component, depending on how many years they spend on the campus.

Lapp said the projects are often linked to the curriculum of each class. In her global issues class, Lapp said she would take students to help at free legal clinics that serve immigrants as well as citizenship classes for those seeking U.S. citizenship.

With her ethics class, Lapp told students the goal of the service project will be to help “build a relationship between the college and the community.”

“I told students part of their job is to rake leaves and part of their job is to visit the people they’ll be assisting. It’s more probably elderly, homebound people that haven’t had a whole lot of human contact since COVID,” she explained.

Lapp said having students do service projects often helps them understand material with more depth and understanding.

“It’s a common thing I hear students say — that what we studied in class became real because we did a hands-on experience in the community,” she said.

“It’s amazing to see to see when they write their final reflections to see how attitudes have changed just by having an opportunity to serve and visit with people who they otherwise would have never have met,” Lapp added.

Creighten Chambers, the campus’ Americorp community partnership coordinator, said participating in the service learning projects helped him understand what he really wanted to do in life. Chambers, who started as a biology major at Iowa Wesleyan, is now a graduate student studying in management leadership with a concentration in athletic administration.

“I love helping people, I love getting out and seeing and learning different cultures. What I really want to do in life is travel and help people as much as I can,” he said.

The graduate student added taking Lapp’s global issues class the previous year opened his eyes to the perspectives of people from all over the world.

“You see people come to America to try to better their lives and you want to help as much as you can … when you hear stories about how and why they want to be here is just amazing,” he said.

As part of the voluntary civil society program, Chambers is heading up his own projects to help and give back to the community. Currently, the student has organized a canned food and winter clothing drive.

Chambers said the canned food drive is in partnership with local nonprofit the Fellowship Cup. Goods collected from the drive will be used to stock the nonprofit’s food pantry. The winter clothing drive will benefit Iowa Wesleyan international students who may have never experienced winter. Any excess clothing also will be donated to the Fellowship Cup.

“There are students who have never seen snow and maybe don’t have a winter jacket,” Chambers said.

Those interested in donating to the canned food and winter clothing drive can drop off items every Sunday from noon to 2 p.m. at 159 Franklin Street or in front of the Howe Student Activity Center.

Any community members who need help with chores or yard work can contact Joy Lapp at or Katherine Valentino at Students will be able to a helping hand through Thanksgiving.