For over a decade, the Kirksville Chamber of Commerce has been teaming up with businesses and Kirksville organizations to make the Downtown Student Welcome an event to greet Truman State University, A.T. Still University and Moberly Area Community College students and introduce them to the Kirksville community.
Every year, 400-600 students gather on the courthouse yard to meet businesses and organizations from Kirksville and surrounding areas.
Sandra Williams, executive director of the Kirksville Chamber of Commerce, says she has been at the Chamber since 2007 and has continued to do the event to welcome students.
“If [students] come down and meet and greet the people and go to each booth, there is an opportunity to find out about businesses they might use while here,” Williams says. “It’s great exposure for our businesses, and these are potential customers. These are kids that will be moving into our community and be here for two to four years as a part of the town, and so it’s a chance to show off our community to students.”
This year’s event included well-known businesses such as Glik’s and JCPenney, as well as soon-to-open businesses like Take Root Cafe and the Kirksville Pharmacy, both of which plan to open their doors later this fall. Many of the businesses were handing out free samples and merchandise to represent their companies
Other groups at the event included churches, volunteer services and community organizations.
“Students also are able to see services they could use throughout their time, and sometimes there’s even volunteer opportunities where the students can get involved and find ways to give back during their time here,” Williams says.
Businesses and other groups offered raffles, free merchandise and prize drawings for students as an incentive to get involved.
Take Root Cafe, Becca Elder
Take Root Cafe is a future Kirksville business planned to open during November 2016. The aim of Take Root Cafe is to lessen hunger and offer healthy food on a pay-what-you-can basis, according to takerootkirksville.org.
Becca Elder was one volunteer who attended the Downtown Student Welcome and handed out small samples of juice throughout the evening to get people interested in the new cafe. Elder says the goal of attending was to spread more information about the upcoming grand opening and the business as a whole because new students would be coming in.
“This event mainly focuses on freshmen, and we want to get them excited about our opening, but also want to get the word out and let them know that we need more volunteers,” Elder says.
For more information, contact Jessica Parks at 660-221-5466.
United Way, John Dungan
The United Way of Adair County is a local service organization that works with other groups to improve quality of life throughout Northeast Missouri, according to liveunitednemo.org.
Executive Director John Dungan was one of the volunteers who attended the event.
“We come out because we want to welcome students as well as show them what kind of community service opportunities are available to them,” Dungan says.
Dungan says he and other volunteers think they were successful for service opportunities because of the amount of signatures they received within the first hour.
Dungan says beyond showing students where they can volunteer, he wants students to feel as though Kirksville is somewhere they can be comfortable for the next four years.
“I hope the overall event helps students feel welcome to Kirksville and more at home here, as well as encourages them to be a little more involved in the community whether that’s through churches, organizations, volunteering — just for them to get connected to the community,” Dungan says.
This story appeared in the Sept. 15 issue of the Index.