While it may be difficult to see the connection between an emergency room’s need for blankets and a college applied ethics class, the two came together to provide a rewarding experience for students. When St. Marys Hospital was trying to find a group to help get blankets for the comfort carts that were being set up in the Emergency Room, the Applied Ethics students from Minnesota School of Business–Rochester agreed take on the service learning project.
First, consider the text book definition of applied ethics, “the actual use of moral standards of behavior to make decisions about human problems.” The family members of dying people in St. Marys Emergency Room face a human problem: death of a loved one. We chose to help those people by providing some type of comfort; this was a moral decision, to do some good for people who are in need of good works.
Additionally, this project met two course objectives: to “examine the role and purpose of ethics in professional settings” and to “understand the ethical values considered especially relevant to professional business activity — respect for human dignity, honesty, fairness and the development of trust.”
As student Gretchen Hill noted, “The project was a good way to bring out the human side of everyone while earning a grade!” Connie Cohen added, “Death is something we have no control over. It’s nice to be able to give some comfort to families no matter how small.”
The class took on this project with dedication and calling. One of the first steps was deciding how to ask for blankets and cash donations. They worked in small groups to come up with posters and one sentence persuasive slogans. The students determined that the final slogan would use words synonymous with comfort like; “Peace is blanket shaped” and “Security is blanket shaped.” From that point, students volunteered to create posters and flyers to be distributed around campus and put by bins to collect blankets and cash donations. Many of the students commented on the positive opportunity to work as a team.
The students learned that people in the emergency room need comfort and as ethical people, we need to help provide that comfort. They learned that a simple blanket can give someone comfort. Student Logan Everson shared, “This project was an eye opener to see that something as simple as a blanket can bring comfort during a time of tragedy.”
The result of the project goes beyond the five large blankets, three small children’s blankets with little dolls and $60 in cash donated to help purchase more blankets.
Student Andrea Dahle summarized the experience, “I was very proud to be a part of this project. It always feels good to give back to your community.”