Liberty University senior Heather Thomas is the recipient of this year’s Christian/Community Service Volunteer of the Year Award for her outstanding contribution and commitment to service in the Lynchburg community and around the world.
She was presented the award in Wednesday’s convocation.
Lew Weider, associate professor and Director of Christian/Community Service (CSER), called Thomas “one of the most energetic servant-leaders” he has met at Liberty. “She is a wonderful example of a Champion for Christ,” he said.
Weider, the faculty adviser for Liberty’s Circle K club, has worked closely with Thomas who served as president for three semesters. Circle K is the largest collegiate service organization worldwide.
Throughout the past academic year, Thomas has organized and served with many projects for the club, including volunteering at two nursing homes, Adopt-a-Highway, the American Red Cross Bloodmobile, the Kiwanis Club of Lynchburg Annual Teddy Bear Parade, clean-up at Blackwater Creek trail and the Hyland Heights Baptist Church food drive.
Thomas, a biology/pre-med major, also helped to raise about $5,500 for the Circle K International Eliminate Project, which is designed to eliminate maternal and neonatal Tetanus.
In addition to her service with Circle K, Thomas volunteers every Tuesday night, and other days during the week as needed, with the Lynchburg Free Clinic. On the weekends, she is on call at the Campbell County Rescue Squad as an EMT-Basic and regularly volunteers at the Lynchburg General Hospital Emergency Department. Every Sunday morning she runs a coffee ministry at Cornerstone Community Church.
Thomas’s volunteerism spirit has also taken her to China for several summers, teaching English as a second language.
This academic year she started Liberty’s Medical Community Service Club where she helped to prepare and send out newsletters for the Free Clinic of Central Virginia, participated in a fundraiser for Mended Hearts (for those with mental and physical health challenges), wrote letters to homebound individuals and cleaned house for a handicapped woman.
Thomas’s latest project is directing the “Walk to Remember Rwanda” fundraiser scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday on the steps of Arthur S. DeMoss Learning Center. The money raised will go toward a school Liberty students are helping to build in Rwanda (read more on that project here).
Thomas said her inspiration for serving comes from the Lord and is a platform for sharing the gospel.
“Volunteering has opened up a bunch of different doors to share Christ in the community,” Thomas said. “Everywhere we go we always have the question, ‘Where all you all from?’ To be able say you’re from Liberty University not only portrays a good name on the school but also upon Christ. People tell us that there is something different about us and they really have enjoyed getting to know the students that have come out.”
Thomas is graduating this May and plans to work for a year at a local nursing home before attending medical school.
The Volunteer of the Year Christian Service Award is presented annually to a student who demonstrates excellence in Christian service and ministry. Students are nominated by their supervisors at the organizations where they volunteer.
Kenneth Hubbell and Mark Osborne received honorable mentions for their service with No Longer Music and Liberty Counsel, respectively.
Liberty requires students to complete a minimum of 20 hours of Christian service each semester to fulfill graduation requirements and support the mission of the university to serve others.