Liberty University students, faculty and staff have been doing their part during this season of giving, responding in a variety of ways to the needs of the community.
For several years, members of the Liberty family have donned the familiar red apron, ringing tiny bells for The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign outside Walmart on Wards Road in Lynchburg. From 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. every day from Nov. 23-Dec. 24, students and workers from various offices within the university — from athletics to nursing, business, aviation, religion, counseling, Christian/Community Service, and many others — have manned the station.
In recent years, members of the Liberty family have helped raise more than $10,000 for the charity.
Other projects, perhaps less noticeable than the bell-ringers but still meeting significant needs, are happening all across campus.
Sodexo, Liberty’s dining services provider, recently had the opportunity to serve a local health care facility. When Sodexo leaders heard that Centra Hospice had set a goal of receiving 300 dozen cookies from area donors this year — a dozen to send to the families of each of its 300 patients — they decided they could take on the entire load.
On Sunday, Dec. 9, five employees spent five hours baking an assortment of sugar cookies in holiday shapes.
“We made it fun. We had an assembly going — we just knocked it out,” said Teresa Hawkins, Sodexo executive administrative assistant. “It was very rewarding for everyone. We're already looking at possibilities, reaching out to other charities to see what we can do.”
Lori Madden, district manager, said the donation was greatly appreciated.
“The folks at Hospice were so overwhelmed and grateful that more than 300 families will now have cookies in their home for their visiting guests because of (the employees’) compassion and commitment,” she said. “It’s selfless acts such as this that makes Christmas such a special time of year.”
The academic offices at the university have participated in meeting the needs of the hungry this season. The dean’s offices of each academic program supported the Holiday Spirit Food Drive to benefit the Miller Home for Girls, the Liberty Godparent Home, and The Salvation Army. Donation centers were set up for staff and students to bring in canned food through Dec. 15. Other offices and student residence halls conducted their own food drives across campus this season.
Serving the community in Christian service has always been a priority at Liberty. A recent study reports students provided 648,579 hours of volunteer service to organizations such as the American Red Cross, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, local churches, humane societies, and The Salvation Army in 2011-2012. Faculty and staff provided an additional 106,350 hours of volunteer labor to charitable organizations.
Liberty requires all sophomores, juniors, and seniors to participate in 20 hours of service each semester through the Christian/Community Service Office. A new program this year, the Community Care Initiative, gives them yet another opportunity to serve their community through short-term projects. On Dec. 1, 15 students participated in a CCI project at Amazement Square Children’s Museum in downtown Lynchburg, helping prepare for its Children’s Holiday Festival.
Many Liberty students are also meeting critical needs overseas this season. On Dec. 27, two staff members and 14 students are participating in a mission trip to East Asia through Light Ministries, Liberty’s short-term missions organization. Read more about that trip here.