Early on a sunny Saturday in April, you might expect to find college students sleeping in, enjoying a leisurely breakfast, or quietly recovering from the previous night's adventures.
Sophomore Ashley Kittelson is in a cubicle, hunched over tax return forms and reference manuals. She's researching whether new vinyl siding qualifies for an energy efficiency tax credit.
"It sounded like a nice way to help out the community," said Kittelson, who is a biology/chemistry double major with a minor in math. "When I'm at the tax site I really enjoy working with people."
She's one of 10 St. Scholastica students who volunteered their time at Community Action Duluth's free tax preparation site this spring. The program provides free income tax return processing for qualifying participants.
Cody Brostrom '16, an accounting/finance major, said he'll never forget watching people's faces light up with news of a big refund, and listening to them talk about what a big difference the money would make in their lives. "It was a great opportunity to get income tax experience and help people out," he said.
Fellow accounting major Anthony Namowicz '16 called the experience "challenging but also fulfilling." It was his first time volunteering. "Just knowing I was able to do something for them that they weren't able to do on their own was a great feeling in itself."
The partnership between CAD and St. Scholastica is organized by Jennifer Pilon, assistant professor of management, who helped start it during the 2009-10 tax season. Students - even non-accounting majors and alumni - have donated their time and effort every year since.
"St. Scholastica students have been a presence for over half the lifetime of our tax site," said Julia Cheng, CAD Tax Site program coordinator. Community Action founded the program in 2005 as part of a nationwide IRS service. "We hope the students value their experience as much as we appreciate their contributions."