New EU students defy heat for community service projects
August 25, 2014 | Ian Richardson
The thermometer may have climbed to nearly 100 degrees Saturday afternoon, but the heat wasn’t enough to stop more than 300 warm-hearted Evangel students from partnering with Convoy of Hope and local churches to perform multiple community services projects throughout the community on Saturday, August 23, 2014.
The service project, which is an annual event during EU Launch (Evangel’s new student orientation), was held on the second full day that new students were on campus. The majority of those participating were freshmen who had been in town for just over 24 hours and were already excited about making a difference.
“Such a big part of what students can do at Evangel is to serve,” Christy Rowden, student activities director, says. “We want them to be engaged in service from the very beginning because this is what we’re about.”
Beginning at noon, the students split into three sections, each with a separate assignment. One group worked at a block party in the Silver Springs Park area, partnering with Convoy of Hope and local churches to offer a variety of services including free haircuts, grocery giveaways, resume assistance, free lunches and a zone of inflatables for kids. A second group worked in the Convoy of Hope warehouse bagging groceries, and a third group worked throughout the neighborhood doing lawn work and debris pickup.
Freshman Audra Cashman and her group spent the day at the Convoy of Hope warehouse. Her section of approximately 100 students bagged over 10,000 bags of groceries, which will be used to feed potentially 5,000 families in the Pennsylvania area. She said this activity was not only a great way to minister to people in need but also to connect with her fellow students.
“We’re learning all these names and faces,” Cashman says, “and then you’re working together, getting exhausted together, you’re hungry and you’re tired, but you’re working for a really good cause, and it is just a great way to meet people.”
Fellow freshman Alyssah Orr said she was surprised at what the group in the warehouse was able to accomplish.
“I thought it was crazy how much we got done,” she says. “In just a couple hours we’re feeding all these people in Pennsylvania. It’s cool that we have a college where that’s valued on the second day of school.”
Freshman Sirena Delaune spent her afternoon at the block party working the kids’ zone. She says the activity helped her not only get to know her fellow freshmen, but also to see what the surrounding community is like. As a freshman planning on majoring in Elementary Education, Delaune says she enjoyed interacting with children of all ages.
“I painted a little baby’s face. I did a little flower on her cheek. It was very difficult, but it was fun,” she says.
Freshman Audrey Kadow, who worked wrapping hot dogs, picking up trash and bagging groceries, said she was surprised at how much of an impact the group made in just a few hours.
“Even though I wasn’t directly working with people, we had people coming up and thanking us for the job we were doing,” she said.
And as for the heat, many students say that once they started working, it didn’t seem as bad.
“I think all the fun that we were having took away all the sweat and heat and stuff,” says freshman Jacob Shaffer. “It took away your mind from all of that because there was music playing, people walking around saying names, just having a good time with what they’re doing.”
EU Launch will conclude Tuesday, the day before classes begin. The service project has been one of many activities that have made students like Kadow excited about their futures at Evangel.
“I think it’s a great start because I think it reflects immediately what the heart of Evangel is,” she says. “It was good. I loved it. I’d definitely do it again.”