Liberty gives back to the community during annual service blitz
Read more stories and view photos from Serve Lynchburg 2019 on social media at #ServeLynchburg.
Instead of sitting in a classroom on Friday afternoon, members of a criminal justice class at Liberty University found themselves pulling weeds at Lynchburg Grows, a nonprofit urban farm.
Their professor, Larry Presley, made sure to keep them on task, issuing out new chores to keep them busy. But as they worked, Presley couldn’t stop smiling.
“This is Scripture coming alive,” Presley said. “When you look at the book of James, it talks about feeding the poor, and here we are, at an organization that serves the poor.”
Presley’s students were some of the 2,200 participants who volunteered for the third annual Serve Lynchburg, a two-day service blitz that dispatched Liberty students, faculty, and staff members across the city to serve at more than 100 organizations and nonprofits. This year, there were more participants than ever before.
“It is nothing short of phenomenal that President Jerry Falwell gets to symbolically put a check in the hands of our mayor and city council that says, ‘I have an army of servants, where would you like them to go?'” said Senior Vice President for Spiritual Development David Nasser. “It is such a blessing to see our faculty and staff roll up their sleeves with our students during Serve Lynchburg. I saw people from every level of leadership with paint brushes, rakes, or towels in their hands, ready to serve.”
Lynchburg Mayor Treney Tweedy commissioned Serve Lynchburg as a special guest during Friday’s Convocation.
“Over 2,000 of you will be on our streets and in our neighborhoods, working with our nonprofits and serving in our community,” she said. “During the year, so many of you volunteer and you organize and create initiatives around our citizens. We’re going to make Lynchburg stronger than it already is.”
The majority of the service was carried on out Saturday. Students met for an early-morning send-off party on the Academic Lawn then boarded buses to their sites. Some of the organizations included: Habitat for Humanity, Amazement Square (a children’s museum), Campbell County Parks and Recreation, Food for Thought, and the YWCA.
For the last two years, Presley has made it a priority to encourage his criminal justice students to participate.
“I want my students to be the hands and feet of our Savior,” Presley said, “and they are. A lot of their hearts are already driven by Christ, and now they get to put that into action. You have to put your Christianity to work.”
Senior KC Horn said he loved participating in Serve Lynchburg last year because it gives students a chance to get outside the campus and make a difference in the community.
“You’re modeling Christ, and that’s what we’re supposed to do,” Horn said.
As a criminal justice major, Horn knows that meeting needs in the local community will be a major focus in his future career in law enforcement.
“One model we try to go over in class is community justice, and that means being very involved in our local community,” he said. “Serve Lynchburg goes right along with that. I know that there are some people in the community who don’t have the best perspective of Liberty, but Serve Lynchburg is a great way to change that. We get to know the community and reach out to them and, honestly, change their attitudes about Liberty, but ultimately point them to Christ.”
Danielle Corrigan, who graduated from Liberty in 2018, returned this year as a site leader for a team of six volunteers who cleaned at Riverviews Artspace in Downtown Lynchburg.
“I love Serve Lynchburg because it gives students the opportunity to encounter those people that they wouldn’t normally meet,” Corrigan said. “There is a whole community on the doorsteps of Liberty’s campus that needs to be loved on and shown the love of Jesus.”
Serve Lynchburg coincided with Liberty’s Serve D.C. event in Washington, D.C. Some students traveled from campus to Washington to volunteer at several sites around the nation’s capital. They were led by Liberty students who are originally from the D.C. area. Students and alumni who live in Washington and study through Liberty’s online program also had a chance to participate.