A group of Augustana University students is getting their hands dirty to help a well-known resource that provides transitional housing to people putting their lives back together. On Friday, you could find students getting their hands dirty outside of the facility.

Brenden Bergquist knows a thing or two about how to make things grow.

“My grandma does a garden every year,” Bergquist said. “My grandma does dill pickles, carrots.”

After all, gardening is in his blood.

“I am kind of my grandmother’s favorite because I help her out with the gardens,” Bergquist said.

Bergquist and his fellow Vikings are clearing out some old planters, and filling flower beds at the St. Francis House. It’s the type of work that piles up for just one person, but with several Augie students, any challenge is left in the dust.

“This is a great opportunity for us, because the work they can get done in just a couple of hours, really provides us with a great opportunity to get tasks done that we couldn’t normally get done,” Tom Foster, St. Francis House volunteer coordinator, said.

It’s part of an outdoor beautification project at the St. Francis House. The facility had to keep volunteers away early on in the pandemic. Now they’re back. Most of the jobs are strictly outside, but Halley Rennpferd is getting swept up in the chance to help.

“It’s something you can’t take away from. Getting to see someone smile and their delight when you rake their yard or cleaning up this,” Rennpferd said. “I think it just means a lot to you, personally. and it’s very rewarding.”

It’s the type of lesson Bergquist says you can’t learn in a classroom.

“You can study, you can go into your class and look at the book, look at the homework, and visit with your professor. But, to go outside of your own community of Augustana, and go into Sioux Falls is just rewarding overall,” Bergquist said.

Students are cleaning up an area of the St. Francis House to prepare for a pop-up performance of Levitt in Your Neighborhood. It’s a special series Levitt at the Falls is doing this summer during the pandemic, to bring musical performers to small gatherings.

True, there are no plants yet, but all of these Augie students are easily gardeners. Bergquist’s grandma would be proud to see he and his friends know a thing or two about taking seeds of goodwill and growing them into a bumper crop.

“We really like to make sure we lead with a servant heart. Part of that is just going out in the community of Sioux Falls and making an impact,” Bergquist said.