More than 400 freshman at Missouri Western State University showed up in elementary schools around St. Joseph Friday morning as part of the “Griffs Give Back” event.

Eugene Field Elementary School welcomed 120 of those college students, who were paired with kids in kindergarten through third grade.

“It is really good for the kids to have that one-on-one time with somebody,’’ said Madison Michalski, a first-year kindergarten teacher at Eugene Field.

This is the second year Western students have been involved in the community service project. In the past, students helped with service projects like painting churches.

“This shows the elementary students all about becoming a future Griff,’’ said Anesha Quarles, an Office of Admissions transition mentor at Western. “I also think it changes some of our freshmen’s perspectives.

Western student Matthew Lewis Kline said Friday’s experience was a good one.

“I’ve never been exposed to something like this,’’ he said. “It helps someone like me who is introverted to get out there and also give back to the community.”

The college students read the younger kids various books, including a MWSU original, “Max The Griffon Goes to College,” which showed the mascot going to different classes and also was a coloring book.

“I think it’s just showing them that reading is important,” Michalski said.

For the students from Missouri Western, the event also provided a way to meet classmates and discover new ventures.

“For me, I want to be a pediatric nurse so I’m glad they gave us this opportunity, said freshman Bianca Vice. “Others going into education may find out they do not want to teach this age.”

This may only be the second year for the event, but Western officials already have plans for coming back next year.

“The kids think it’s so cool to have college students here with them and everyone loves this,” Quarles said.

Hannah Page can be reached