Students spend spring break week in service
While some students decided to go to the beach over spring break or home to relax, 10 Bluffton University students decided “Why Knot?” spend the 2017 break week in service. Several members of SERVE, a service organization at Bluffton, traveled to Quakertown, Pa., where one of their projects was knotting quilts during West Swamp Mennonite Church’s Why Knot Week. The quilts will be donated to Mennonite Central Committee and the MAMA Project in Honduras.
Sophomore Emily Rush, an English major from Quakertown, planned the trip with Alyssa Kauffman, a senior food and nutrition major from West Liberty, Ohio.
“On Monday, I showed about six Bluffton people how to knot the quilts. Later in the week, I saw many of them teach someone else who was new how to knot,” said Rush. “That was special to see how our work was already spreading. It was also great seeing how people who had never done that kind of community service become comfortable trying new things.”
Kauffman added, “I really enjoyed it. We worked with all different generations. It was cool to hear the stories of the other people working on the comforters during the week. It was a relaxed and enjoyable time, but we were still able to accomplish something for others.”
Along with knotting comforters, students stuffed mailings at Crossroads Pregnancy Center in Philadelphia, volunteered at Peter Becker Retirement Center and spruced up the Missionary Kare Ministry home. Many of the students also stayed on a family farm during the experience and helped with daily chores.
“SERVE teaches students service, one of Bluffton’s four enduring values, in a very hands-on way. Giving up your Saturday or spring break to help people in need is a really important value,” said Leah Schroeder, SERVE staff advisor. “On this particular trip, I think the students learned a lot about the importance of community. People from all over the community, including folks that don’t attend the church, came to help. We had a lot of meaningful conversations with the people we were working with.”
SERVE is a service-oriented group which promotes missions and service opportunities for students off campus. In addition to the spring break service trip, students do a number of smaller projects throughout the year in Bluffton and the surrounding communities. Projects have included campus and community cleanups, serving at soup kitchens and local food pantries and volunteering at places like Maple Crest Senior Living and Camp Luz. All of the experiences are student led and organized.
“I think as a campus and college it’s important to do community outreach because if you support the community, the community will in turn support you,” said Rush.
“It’s important to go abroad to do service, but it’s also important to work in your local community and build bridges close to home,” said Kauffman.
This was the first time SERVE students spent spring break in Quakertown. In previous years, they have worked with Mennonite Disaster Service in Detroit and New York.
I think as a campus and college it’s important to do community outreach because if you support the community, the community will in turn support you."