Anderson University freshman Nicole Shenefield wanted to say "thank you" in advance to the city she will call home for the next four years.
Shenefield, along with about 500 other students new to AU, worked Saturday morning to beautify the city, picking up trash, weeding, mowing, painting and doing other odd jobs as part of the second annual day of service partnership between AU and the city.
"It’s important because you don’t just want to come here and go to school," said Shenefield, a secondary English education and theater arts major. "You want to be part of the town that’s giving you so much. It’s just a way to say 'Thank you.'"
The freshmen participated in the project as part of orientation, which started Thursday and included speakers, an ice cream social and a Meijer shopping trip.
"Part of our mission is to educate for a life of faith and service to the church and society," said Dean Branson, AU director of student activities. "We want the orientation process to let our students know we take this mission very seriously."
Jefferson City, Mo., native Andy Herrick, who started his first year at AU this week, said he was happy with the school’s presentation of service opportunities available to students.
"It’s part of an effort by AU to give back to the community," said the sociology and Bible and Religion major as he helped weed a park area near the Madison County Government Center. "A lot of the places don’t have the resources to take care of their own parking lots and lawns."
The group in which Herrick and AU junior Caitlyn Krontz were a part spent Saturday morning weeding, pruning shrubs and raising the canopies of trees along downtown sidewalks so pedestrians could walk under them.
Krontz remembers participating in the day of service last year, when she did work along Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
"I just get excited to see a project that you do with your own hands," she said. "Now, when I drive by on MLK, I think, 'I did that!'"
Kim Rayford, who organized the day of service on behalf of the city, said she was pleased with the day’s turnout, which required five school buses, four cars and two church vans to transport students to areas of the city.
"I really thought it turned out wonderful," Rayford said. "They were very cooperative and very understanding about what the work entailed."
City officials have established a committee to line up projects for those who call City Hall wanting to volunteer their time and efforts. The committee helped find projects for the AU students to complete Saturday.
Branson said the school just wanted students to feel as if Anderson was their home.
"We hope that they are introduced to the community and see that this is a good place to live, to be a part of, that this can really be theirs and there are plenty of opportunities to serve and minister," he said.
AU sophomore Amanda Darst said she got a feeling of accomplishment as she and fellow students picked up trash around Scatterfield Road and Interstate 69 on Saturday.
"Just knowing we made a difference as college students (was the best accomplishment)," she said. "Just knowing we’re part of the town and not just the college."
—Aleasha Sandley is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Photo credits: Don Knight. Story republished with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,800 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.