For the past two years, a number of Truman students have been donating their time in the Kirksville community to inspire a love of learning in children ages 4-14 through the Peace program. Peace is a non-profit after-school program that involves volunteers going to the Devlin Place housing complex located several blocks southwest of campus to mentor neighborhood children.
While about 20 children attend regular sessions, which take place from 3:30-5:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, the program saw more than 100 different children over the course of the last year.
Kirksville’s Peace program was established in 2010 and modeled after a similar program in Columbia, Mo. According to Amy Burbee, a Peace program coordinator, the decision was made to introduce the program in the Devlin Place area after a group of students spent a summer volunteering and distributing lunches through the Food4Kids program in a nearby park. After building a relationship with the families in the area, these students saw a need for the program.
Peace volunteers provide children with homework help, healthy snacks and fun activities. The program is provided at no cost to the children or their parents, and the volunteers go to the students’ neighborhood for all activities.
Peace is staffed completely by volunteers, mainly Truman students and members of the Life Church High School.
It is affiliated with the University through the campus organization Equipped, but participating Truman students do not receive course credit or scholarship hours, they simply do it for the experience.
“The most rewarding part of the program is seeing the growth of the kids,” Burbee said. “For example, seeing students who have been getting C’s start to get A’s and B’s, or seeing a student gain more confidence in math or watching their social skills grow.”
Peace is supported entirely by donations. Last fall, Truman students sold kettle corn to help raise funds. All financial donations go toward food, supplies and other basic necessities for the program. More information about the Peace program is available online at peacekv.org. The site includes ways to make donations and also has steps for anyone wanting to volunteer as a tutor.