While volunteering at The Christian Center, Chance, an Anderson University student, noticed a man’s shoes were in bad condition and barely staying on his feet. While talking with this man, Chance decided to take his shoes off and give them to the man. “He was planning on walking back to campus in the snow, with no shoes,” said Dr. Stuart Erny, director of campus ministries at AU.
Chance’s story is just one of the many inspiring moments that take place each year through student service activities. During the past year, students contributed more than 24,000 hours of service and ministry.
“I believe these kinds of experiences not only benefit the agencies served but also help students connect classroom learning with real-life issues,” said Dr. Marie Morris, provost. “This also helps the university be a better neighbor and partner with our community.”
[Photo: Members of an AU social club lend a helping hand to a local business.]
Helping the city of Anderson by volunteering is one of the many ways the AU family is able to partner with the community. Stephanie Moran, director of the university’s Community Partnership Center, works to increase the community network on behalf of AU. “It is important to volunteer and be involved in the community, because it allows students to be involved in their classes and turn that learning into a catalyst for change,” said Moran.
Students can offer their time through campus ministries, social clubs, Campus Activities Board (CAB), student-led organizations such as Operation Foundation, Student United Way, and other options.
“The cool thing about AU is that there are places to serve all over the place, and they are usually delighted to have university students come volunteer,” said Jennie McMullin, an AU junior and Operation Foundation coordinator. “There is a place for everyone to serve.”
Volunteering opportunities have allowed students to be a positive light to Anderson residents.
“Unfortunately, our culture has become one where we only do something if we are going to get paid for it. Therefore, volunteering is counter-cultural,” said Morris. “We have found it is a way to rebuild that sense of community. I am amazed and proud of the servant leadership I see among AU students and their generosity of meeting others’ needs. This gives me great hope for our future.”
Students who are volunteering their time have been able to give back to the community and gain valuable experiences in return. Many students have been able to produce business plans for organizations for class projects, and those organizations, in turn, use the plans the students have created. “I have seen students help those people who may not have had the opportunity to be helped, but mostly I have seen students grow because of the experiences they have had volunteering,” said Moran.
One opportunity students have to collectively give back to the community is through Operation Foundation. The week-long event invites students from every campus organization to complete service hours in the Anderson community.
“We offer students an opportunity that allows them to come, after class, and volunteer any amount of time they can,” said McMullin. “I think it is important for the community to be reminded that people care. It’s important to bridge the gaps and emerge out of our own little world and help out the very city we live in, because that is where community begins.”
— Allison Kohl is a junior from Springfield, Ohio, majoring in communication arts. Kohl is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of about 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.