Steve Walczak, right, an assistant professor in information systems, hands a basic needs kit to a homeless man in Denver

University of Colorado Denver students, staff and faculty fanned out across Denver Thursday afternoon, delivering hygiene kits, snacks, blankets and beanies to the homeless.

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Steve Walczak, an assistant professor in Information Systems in the Business School.

Walczak joined about 40 other volunteers in strolling parts of the city, handing bags of deodorant, lotion, shampoo, soap and other basic-needs items to the homeless. Volunteers broke into four groups, hitting parts of the city — such as the 16th Street Mall and around the rescue missions — where homeless tend to congregate.

Scenes from Random Acts of Kindness:

The Random Acts of Kindness service project was coordinated by the Experiential Learning Center (ELC) and the Office of Student Life.

Walczak said he’s always looking for opportunities to help people. “I saw a poster for this (event) and I thought, ‘Well, great, here’s an opportunity.'”

Nelson Rodriguez, a post-grad intern in internships and community engagement in the ELC, said the effort to help the homeless sprang from an Alternative Winter Break program coordinated by the Office of Student Life during the last break between semesters. CU Denver students traveled to Southern California and worked at a homeless shelter.

“They were excited about the work they did in San Diego and wanted to do something similar in Denver,” Rodriguez said.

The Random Acts of Kindness project included a Stop & Serve event, where students made blankets and beanies and assembled the hygiene kits. Stop & Serve events are held monthly in the North Classroom Atrium to promote volunteerism and community engagement.

Glen Troseth, who works in facilities maintenance at the Anschutz Medical Campus, said he had been helping the homeless on his own but thought it might be safer to do it as part of a group.

“It’s always good to do this kind of stuff,” Troseth said. “You just need to look around a bit to find a volunteer activity that interests you. It’s always good to give to your community.”

(Photo: Steve Walczak, right, an assistant professor in information systems, hands a basic needs kit to a homeless man along the Cherry Creek trail.)

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