April 19, 2021 : By Jacob Couch - Office of Communications & Public Engagement
Liberty University freshman Kenna Provence walked into the Lynchburg Humane Society Friday afternoon, interrupting her typical routine of walking into her afternoon classes on campus. Instead of cracking open a textbook, she had volunteered to pick up waste and debris outside the facility and do some cleaning inside.
Provence was one of close to 1,500 other Liberty students, faculty, and staff who blanketed the Lynchburg community in groups on Friday and Saturday to serve at the 97 different locations as part of Liberty’s annual Serve Lynchburg event.
“Getting out and serving the community is one of the best ways to show your faith,” she said. “It’s more than just saying you’re a Christian, it is actually putting your faith into action. The Bible talks about that, and it’s honestly very powerful for someone who is not a believer to see a ton of people coming out to serve without expecting anything in return.”
“This is a really unique experience and is really exciting,” Provence added. “It’s so cool to not be confined to just the campus area but to instead get out and also see what the community here has to offer.”
A fellow team member, freshman Evan Runkles, said he didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to be involved.
“Any time you’re getting out into the community, you’re trying to live out your testimony as a Christian,” he said. “In everything you do as a Christian, you’re showing your testimony whether you know it or not. We’re just trying be humble and do stuff that people don’t normally think about doing all the time. Liberty has such a special way of giving back to the community while Training Champions for Christ.”
This year marks the fourth year that the school has blessed the area through the university’s annual two-day service blitz. (Last year’s event was canceled due to COVID-19.) Volunteer activities included mulching around the Eagle Eyrie Baptist Conference Center, painting at the Free Clinic of Central Virginia in Bedford, clearing debris at area cemeteries, assisting local churches in repairs, and beautifying nearby museums and Blackwater Creek Trail, to name a few.
“Serve Lynchburg is a unique event opportunity for the students of Liberty University to invest their time and talents right here in our city,” said Steven Gillum, director of strategic partnerships and special projects for LU Serve. “We want our students to go into all the world serving others through their passions and careers in order to make disciples. But, why not start right here? LU Serve is excited about events like this because it is a great opportunity to focus on our local community and serve alongside community organizations.”
Throughout the weekend of giving, students were reminded of the joy that comes with living out one’s faith.
“With my major, we’ve been in the classroom so much this year it feels so good to come out and serve this area,” freshman nursing student Hallie Winters said while spreading mulch at The Summit retirement community. “Even some things as small as giving the women who live here some beautiful flowers to look at can be an encouragement to them.”
LU Serve Executive Director Lew Weider expressed his appreciation to all involved.
“Serve Lynchburg was an incredible, two-day event that really highlighted Liberty University’s greatest aspect: its students,” he said. “They worked extremely hard and had great attitudes, which made a tremendous impact on those they served.”
Weider said several representatives from the organizations they served reached out to him afterward with gratitude for all that was accomplished in a short period of time.
“I am so proud of the LU Serve staff, staff volunteers from the Office of Spiritual Development, and student workers for the planning and hard work to accomplish this event while following all required protocols during this challenging pandemic season. We look forward to continuing this event on an annual basis.”