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Model of civic and volunteer engagement

March 14, 2014
By State Senator Steve Sodders - D-State Center , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

One of the best parts of being a state legislator is encouraging more Iowans to get involved, whether it is though civic engagement or volunteer work in their communities. This week, we saw those two things come together in a bill that passed the Iowa Senate.

Senate File 2129, a bill that I introduced, would allow schools to create a philanthropy account within their student activity fund. The money raised could be used for educational, charitable, humane, scientific, public health or welfare, environmental or disaster relief purposes. This includes charitable causes related to the school district or to local students.

The idea behind this bill is extra special because it came from a group of government students at West Marshall High School. They wanted to raise money for a family that had gone through an especially hard time. Unfortunately, there wasn't a way for the money to be kept separate from other student activity funds, and the state Department of Education did not permit setting up a separate account.

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State Senator Steve Sodders

Rather than giving up, the West Marshall students researched the problem, came up with a solution, proposed legislation, advocated for it and saw it pass the Senate this week.

I enjoy going "back to school" by visiting with students and educators in classrooms across my senate district. I always encourage students to think of things they'd like to improve and then to get involved to make those changes a reality.

While the conflict we see in Washington, D.C., can be disheartening, there are plenty of opportunities to make a difference in our communities and in the lives of our fellow citizens. Senate File 2129 and the students who proposed it are proof that in Iowa, civic action makes a difference.



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