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Welcome to Viterbo's Service Saturdays!

Are you looking to learn more? THIS VIDEO does an excellent job of capturing the story of our Service Saturdays experience.  Kudos to Mark Seitz for his creative vision and hours of editing!  

Our Mission:  

Viterbo University’s Service Saturdays program encourages opportunities for leadership and growth through promoting lasting relationships and meaningful reflection by connecting Viterbo’s core values with those of our local agencies, our neighbors, our environment, and each other.

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2024-2025 Save the Dates:  

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    What do we do?

    We are incredibly excited to provide opportunities for Viterbo students to serve alongside various community organizations, connect with each other, and enjoy a post-service reflection meal led by our Service Saturdays student leaders. Service Saturdays include a variety of service opportunities and sites with activities. We hope to take burdens away from local agencies so they can better serve the community. Each Saturday sees multiple project options, providing service across ability and interest areas. We may serve in a garden for the FSPA sisters, deep clean for our friends at the Place of Grace, or interact with residents at a local assisted living facility. 

    Each Saturday is a different opportunity for the Viterbo community to make meaningful relationships with each other, local agencies, their staff, and our neighbors they serve. We hope Service Saturdays allows participants to meet other Viterbo folks, explore issues affecting our community, and build long-term service-oriented relationships beyond one Saturday morning.  

    Feel free to sign up with members of your club/organization or as an individual.  Registration is available/active on this page 3-4 weeks prior to serving, with a deadline typically the Wednesday before.  All students, faculty, staff, alumni, and their families/guests are invited! For questions contact Colin Burns-Gilbert at 608-796-3846 or

    If you are interested in being on the Service Saturdays email list, sign up here.

    **All Service Saturdays participants need to have an updated Participant Assumption of Risk and Release of Liability Form on file before participating.** Only 1 completion of the form is required.  VU students/employees should complete the Etrieve form.  Guests can complete a paper version.

    COVID19 Impact:
    Participants will be required to follow the COVID19 procedures in place at their hosting agency or organization, as well as mitigations implemented by Viterbo. These specifics will be included in the email confirmation sent a few days before our service.

    Because of the unpredictable nature of both service and COVID19, at this time we encourage everyone to bring a sling bag with a mask, hand sanitizer, a full water bottle, a snack, and/or any other personal needs relevant to their project (sunscreen, work gloves, backup mask, bug spray, etc).  

    Upcoming Service Saturdays and Registration

    Service Saturdays generally start with check-in prior to kickoff at 8:30 a.m. We will then transition to the service projects we signed up for. The day will end with a post-service conversation and free lunch at Viterbo. Visit the Details section of this page for—you guessed it—more details. 

    2023-2024 Summary

    Aug. 26: Orientation Service Saturday - We sent approximately 280+ people out into the community on the first Saturday of Orientation.  Viterbo employees/upperclass students serve as Site Leaders on this day, but participation is limited to new Viterbo students. In one morning, our group provided 945 hours and a community impact valued at over $26,0000!  Click here to review photos! 

    Sept. 16: Family Day Service Saturday -  In fall 2023, we saw 130+ people join us (65+ guests, family, and friends) - our largest Family Day Service Saturday yet!   Thank you to everyone who made an impact as our Service Saturdays family!  Click here to view photos. 

    Oct. 14: Westby Service Saturday - For the first time ever, we took Service Saturdays on the road!  We are partnered with a local community to build better relationships through shared service and a community meal.  Transportation was provided from Viterbo to Westby in the morning and after service/lunch.  We saw ~45 people across generations connect with each other and the stories of Westby residents and organizations.  That produced 129 hours and ~$4,000 of community impact value.  Click here to view photos. 

    Nov. 4: Make a Difference Day Service Saturday  - This is our day to collaborate and serve with students from UW-La Crosse and Western!  Viterbo hosted 90+ people from all 3 campuses in our quest to build bridges between our institutions as we serve the common good.  That's a community impact valued at over $8,000 in one morning of service!

    Dec. 2: Viterbo Rings Service Saturday- On the weekend before finals, Viterbo needed all hands on deck to take over Salvation Army Red Kettle locations for the day.  In 2022,  Viterbo folks took over 9 locations and were able to raise $3,164.25 in one day.  On Dec 2, 2023?  Our understaffed 10 locations raised $5,081.24 in one day - creating a community impact valued at over $11,000 total!  Click here to view photos from our day.

    Jan. 15, 2024: MLK Day of Service, Learning, and Celebration - Live Dr. King's values with invaluable non-profits serving some of our most vulnerable neighbors.  Help lighten their loads before learning about various identities and issues before celebrating the incredible good across La Crosse.  MLK Day 2024 saw 220+ people serve, creating a community impact valued at over $20,000 in one morning! Click here to view photos from our day.

    Feb. 17: Traditional Service Saturday - This was our only traditional Service Saturday of the spring semester!  We saw 34 people sign up to join us for an impact valued over $3,000.  This is typically our most intimate Viterbo Service Saturday experience!

    March 23: Place of Grace Service Saturday - This day is special because lunch and reflection will be hosted by our partners at the Place of Grace.  Founded by Professor Tom Thibodeau, the Place of Grace helps provide food, resources, and spiritual support to our closest neighbors, just a few blocks from Viterbo.  This year, we saw 31 people choose to give their Saturday morning back to our community.  We provided a community impact valued at nearly $3,000 together!

    April 20: President's Day of Service -  We ended our year of service by returning to our tradition started in 2017 - honoring and connecting with each other and the community.  If you can only make it to one Service Saturday this spring, make it this one!  This year, on a busy spring day, we saw 60 people give back 180 hours and provided a community impact valued at over $5,000!!  Just because they made time to focus on our community, each other, and the issues we're all facing, together.  Click here to view photos from our day.  

    Anti-Racist Resources

    Service Saturdays 6-Week Anti-Racism Project: Created to help the Service Saturdays family navigate their journey to better understand and dismantle racist ideas and policies. 


    NO LAST MINUTE CANCELLATIONS, PLEASE. Unless ill, do not cancel within 24 hours of your volunteer shift. The community agencies count on us.

    Service Saturdays Leader: Groups will have a trained Service Saturdays site leader at each site whenever possible. This person will be your on-site contact and will contact you by Wednesday before the project regarding specific details. Know that the site leaders are a resource for you.

    What to wear/bring: Wear closed-toed shoes and bring a water bottle. Sometimes our hosts need to change projects last-minute.  There may be other requirements for specific projects, be sure to check your Viterbo email the day before and the morning of the event.  It's usually safe to wear clothes you don't mind getting dirty.

    Weather: Some projects are outdoors. In the case of bad weather, we will contact you ASAP (email if on Friday, cell phone if on Saturday) to let you know of any changes.  Service Saturdays will be rain or shine.

    If problems or questions arise: You may contact Colin Burns-Gilbert at 608-796-3846 or until 2:30 p.m. on Fridays. After that time, contact your Service Saturday site leader directly.


    Interested in learning more? Want your club or organization to sponsor a service site? Have questions? Contact our student leaders Emma Blackdeer, Ellie Groth, Maria Ruiz Martinez, or Kael Larson.  You may also contact Colin Burns-Gilbert at 608-796-3846 or We are more than happy to answer your questions about Service Saturdays!

    Service Saturdays Team Photo - December 2023
    L-R: Colin Burns-Gilbert, Emma Blackdeer, Ellie Groth, Maria Ruiz Martinez, Kael Larson

    Meet our Service Saturdays Student Leaders





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    Emma Blackdeer


    Kael Larson photo


    Maria Ruiz Martinez

    Emma Blackdeer

    Kael Larson


    Major: Education

    Major: Neuroscience Major: Nursing


      Class Year:  2027 Class Year: 2026 Class Year:  2027
      Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI Hometown: Sparta, WI Hometown: Reedsburg, WI


    What People are Saying about Service Saturdays

    Photos from President's Day of Service 2018
    Inauguration Service Saturday Pictures and Info
    Past Service Saturday Pictures

    • Gaze:  
      • “They are understaffed so many things we helped with were long overdue.  I want to re-center the impact being made in the local community”  - student serving with outdoor children's programming organization

      • “Meeting people and hearing their stories, where they’re from or where they’ve been; that will stick with me" – student serving at South Library Park 

      • “Seeing a group of strangers work together is a meaningful interaction that will stick with me.” – student serving at Westby Norskedalen Heritage and Nature Center.  

    • Consider:  

      • “I made deeper relationships, felt safe and loved, positive, and happy! 😊" – student serving with The Little Heart Project 

      • “Today’s service made me grateful to live in a community that is so deeply connected.” – student serving at Children’s Museum 

      • “Today made me very thankful for the service of others and I feel good about knowing I helped others as well.” – student serving at La Crosse City Hall Victory Gardens 

    • Contemplate:  

      • “My mother volunteered at a Habitat store throughout my childhood, so I felt comfortable in that environment right away.” – student serving with Habitat for Humanity ReStore 

      • “Seeing different life experiences made it super cool and insightful.” – serving with FSPA Garden & Greenhouse 

      • “Growing up in an unconnected community makes me so happy to have found this one.” – student serving at Children’s Museum 

    • Imitate:  

      • “I hope that I can take more initiative in the future and work on not being scared to help.” – student serving with Habitat for Humanity ReStore 

      • “Get to know more about the little communities within La Crosse" – student serving with Holy Trinity-Longfellow Neighborhood Association 

      • “I hope to be more active in creating positive vibes and spreading happiness.” – student serving with The Little Heart Project. 


    2023-2024 Impact


    2023-20234 Impact

    # People


    Hours Served


    Community Impact Value


    Local Orgs/Projects


    Participant Breakdown 

    First Year = 40%, Sophomore = 9%, Junior = 8%, Senior = 7%, Employees = 10% Alumni/Guests = 26%