College students come together to make a difference in the community

More than a 150 students from UW-La Crosse, Viterbo and Western Technical college are working together to improve our community.

Students volunteered with a dozen organizations in the annual Make a Difference Day.

One group of students helped Habitat for Humanity by tearing old siding off a house that will eventually be donated to a mother and her four kids.

One of the volunteers, Seth Polfus, said, “I came from a town of a thousand people so there you kind of need everyone to help out in your own way and I kind of just grew up with that.”

Polfus came to UW-L from a small town in upper Michigan.

“There’s always people around to help you out, and I think believing in that and actually getting that into action through volunteering is so important,” Polfus said.

When he first got to town, he felt out of place.

“At first I got here and it just was weird you know being five and a half hours from home with no one I really knew. And once I got kind of throughout the community I started making like-minded friends, people that wanted to help out the community as much as I did and then it just felt like I connected through that, through volunteering and giving back,” Polfus said.

He started volunteering to help others, but realized he was also helping himself.

“Some of the best friends I’ve made on campus I’ve made from volunteering,” Polfus said.

One new friend he made today is Viterbo student Therese Dehnert.

“I’m a sophomore and I’ve done every service Saturday since I came to Viterbo. My first one was because it was required for a class but after that it was just like it felt good to be giving something back to the community,” Dehnert said.

Like Polfus, Dehnert volunteers for two reasons, to give back and to make new friends.

“I’ve made more friends here I think then I did all through high school. And it’s just been a great community to be a part of,” Dehnert said.

Tim Hansen, who works with Habitat for Humanity, said, “We couldn’t get nearly this kind of work accomplished without groups like this coming in and just digging in and going for it. Any old timer that wants to complain about this generation just hang around here for a while.”

In addition to helping others, Polfus said volunteering makes him appreciate what he has.

“Yeah I’m struggling with classes right now, I’m struggling, and can’t get enough sleep because my dorm’s too loud but some people don’t even have a house in the community,” Polfus said.

In addition to Habitat for Humanity, volunteers worked with the Humane Society, children’s museum, Hunger Task Force, Salvation Army and several other organizations.

If you would like to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity you can visit or call 608-785-2373