Faith & Service

Reaching Out to the Local Community

June 1, 2017
Faith & Service

Reaching Out to the Local Community

June 1, 2017

EDITOR’S NOTE: Serving others is one of Liberty’s longest-standing traditions. This story is part of a “Love Thy Neighbor” series about the many projects through which students display selfless service as they strive to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and obey His greatest commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Building Homes and Hope

Throughout the school year, Liberty’s Habitat for Humanity Club helps to build homes for those in need around the Lynchburg area.

The group became a Student Government Association (SGA) club in 2014. In February, Liberty was recognized as an official Habitat for Humanity International Campus, and it continues to support the local chapter, Greater Lynchburg Habitat for Humanity.

The club’s current project is building a home for an elderly Lynchburg man. Students hope to complete and dedicate the home by 2018.

The club also holds many fundraisers and events every semester. Last year, students completed a home for a mother and her three children. The club raised $60,000 to fully sponsor the home and spent weekends working at the site.

City Bus Stop Becomes a Greeting Spot

No matter the weather, you can find a dozen Liberty University students handing out snacks and talking with people waiting for a ride on the City of Lynchburg’s transit system every Friday during the school year.

Students take time out of their busy schedules to spend a few hours at the bus stop in front of Lynchburg Public Library. They set up tables with chips, drinks, and free clothes to give to those who may be in need.

The bus stop ministry was started five years ago and is now organized through LU Serve. David Shin, who graduated in May with a religious studies degree, took over as the student leader two years ago, along with fellow graduate Stephen Kwoen.

“God really pushed me to step out in faith,” Shin said. “When I was asked to take over the ministry, I thought I was too young.”

Shin said that during his first week of seeking volunteers, he talked with students in an Evangelism 101 class. On that Friday, more than 20 students showed up to help.
“God has provided for us time and time again,” Shin said.

The students meet with an average of 35 bus riders at the stop each week. It isn’t unusual for students to arrive and see several people waiting for them.

“A few of them have nicknames for us,” Shin said.

Snacks are provided by a local Food Lion, while clothes are donated by churches around Lynchburg.

The students also host a block party near the bus stop each semester. The party includes an inspiring message, followed by worship, prayer, and a cookout.

“You meet a lot of interesting and fun people,” Kwoen said. “What I love about it is that we get to come together as friends and serve the community.”

Students host hands and feet hygiene clinic at Salvation Army shelter

Liberty University School of Nursing students continue to serve the homeless and impoverished members of the Lynchburg community during their Hands and Feet Clinic at the Salvation Army’s Center of Hope.

The clinic has been offered for the last two years. In the spring semester, the clinic was held once a week for six weeks. Students wash hands and feet, give manicures and pedicures, and hand out socks. The clinic was made possible through the university’s Illuminate Grant for the Improvement of Teaching, which allows faculty to increase hands-on experiences for students. The grant has also been used to purchase shoes for participants who attend at least two sessions.

Glover Martin said the students made him feel so welcome that he came to several clinics.

“They were so kind and very sweet,” Martin said. “They made my hands feel so good.”

Assistant Professor Dr. Dana Woody said that she has served as a community health nurse for 17 years, and the Hands and Feet Clinic is special.

“It gives a whole new meaning to coming alongside those in our community,” Woody said. “We’ve had students so touched by the opportunity that they have invited their hallmates and prayer groups to volunteer.”

Recent graduate Amy Steadman said she enjoyed interacting with the participants and hearing their stories.

“They were really impacted; you could see that they were taken aback when we would greet them by name,” Steadman said. “Part of nursing is building relationships with people, and that’s what we were able to do.”

Liberty Dining Gives Back

During the 2016-17 academic year, Liberty and its dining services provider, Sodexo, donated food and more than $6,500 to nonprofits in the Lynchburg area.

In the university’s annual Fall Food Drive, students collected 1,100 pounds of canned food. Sodexo matched that amount (plus some), resulting in a total donation of 2,371 pounds to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.

Sodexo also sponsored craft fairs and farmer’s markets during the school year, donating vendor fees to Miriam’s House (a local organization that serves homeless women and their children), Lynchburg Daily Bread (an organization in downtown Lynchburg that feeds the hungry), and the Society of St. Andrew’s Gleaning Network in Virginia, which distributes food to people in need.

Throughout the year, Sodexo also donates the leftover food from its catering events to Lynchburg Daily Bread.

Students have a chance to support the community every time they make a purchase at The Grid, a convenience store on campus. When students pay for their items, they can drop a token into one of three boxes designated for local charities. A percentage of sales is then donated to the charities based on the number of tokens in each box.

Reaching Out

For 14 years, up to 300 students have joined Liberty’s Campus Serve program every Saturday morning throughout the academic year to play with children, spend time with elderly neighbors, and minister to those in need in downtown Lynchburg neighborhoods.

Federal Aid Program Places Students in the Community

Through the Federal Work-Study Program for universities, several Liberty students work in part-time positions with community organizations each year. The program is part of the nationwide Federal Title IV campus-based aid program. Federal funds pay for 75 percent of the program, while Liberty pays the remaining 25 percent.

More than 60 spots were filled this academic year. Students worked at organizations such as Lynchburg Parks & Recreation, Jubilee Family Development Center, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Lynchburg, Linkhorne Middle School, Mary Bethune Academy, and Lynchburg Beacon of Hope (a program that targets at-risk youth in Lynchburg City Schools to prepare them for college and careers after graduation).

More “Love Thy Neighbor” stories:

A Day of Service
Massive Shoe Drive Aims to Save Lives in the Congo
LUCOM, School of Nursing Hold Community Clinics in Guatemala
Disaster Relief Teams Make National and Global Impact
Student-Athletes Put Service Projects in Motion

 

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