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University of Kentucky SHIFT wins Best Service Project Award


Article by Leslie Zukor

Congratulations to the University of Kentucky's Society for Humanistic, Intellectual, and Free Thought (SHIFT) for winning the SSA 2007 Best Service Project Award. Each year, the Secular Student Alliance awards its four annual Best Awards to clubs that excel in a particular area. Groups can be awarded in several categories, among them Best Service Project, Best Media, and Best Website.

UK SHIFT Members
Members of University of Kentucky's SHIFT

SHIFT Treasurer Tyler Porter donates blood as part of the National Day of Reason.

An active club, SHIFT has upwards of 10 regular members and 60 people in its Facebook group. The organization has hosted events for Darwin Day and the National Day of Reason, and has spearheaded a group-wide blood drive. For all of the group's accomplishments, it is SHIFT's commitment to service that distinguishes the University of Kentucky club. "President Adam Leedy, a couple other members, and I really wanted service work to be part of what SHIFT did," explains club Vice-President Jo Oldiges. As a result of club members' giving spirit, SHIFT undertook a charitable endeavor that would receive accolades from both the SSA and the University of Kentucky.

This past year, club members participated in DanceBlue, a daylong, no-sitting-or-sleeping dance marathon to benefit the school's pediatric oncology clinic. For each hour, there was theme music which participants had to dance to, including jazzercise, merengue, and Disney movie ditties. According to Oldiges, an English senior, "It was kind of goofy." However, the benefits of helping children with cancer far outweighed temporary sleep deprivation. "A lot of the families and the kids that we were raising money for were there. Yes, it was exhausting, but it was…a chance to do some good work, promote a positive image of freethinkers, and just be a part of the UK community." As a result of the group's efforts, SHIFT raised over $1,000, which was the second highest amount among UK's "small groups". In the end, not only did SHIFT receive the SSA's Best Service Project award, but the club was also recognized with a plaque from the university itself.

UK SHIFT members pose at DanceBlue. From left to right, Chris Wiedamann, Jarrod Miller, Jo Oldiges, and Adam Leedy.

For all of the group's accomplishments, what stood out was how many club members participated in SHIFT's service project. Unlike many other student organizations, where it's difficult to get a commitment from beyond the officer circle, four members took part in the actual dance event and even more went door-to-door to raise money to aid children with cancer. In sum, seven students played a key role in SHIFT's efforts and even more contributed money to the cause. It is this teamwork, along with raising in excess of $1,000 for pediatric cancer patients, that makes the SSA thrilled to present its Best Service Project Award to the University of Kentucky's Society for Humanistic, Intellectual, and Free Thought.

Leslie ZukorLeslie A. Zukor is a junior at Reed College, where she is studying Linguistics with a concentration in Anthropology. During her time at Reed, she has founded the Reed Secular Alliance, which has brought notable speakers such as Daniel Dennett, Chris Mooney, and David Halperin to speak on issues related to secularism and society. As career goals, Zukor hopes to become an author, social activist, and a college professor.

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