Spending one’s Saturday cleaning up after animals, sorting inventory, and doing yard work at 8 in the morning probably does not sound ideal to many. However, to some students, this is a time to give back to the community, work together and serve God.
Reaching Out is a Student Government Association event sponsored by director of community service and cultural affairs George Harrison, director of spiritual life Tyler Potts and the representative chaplains of each class.
Students “reach out” to the Temple/Belton community by providing a helping hand to various community organizations and individuals.
They work in teams, based on the assignments they signed up for, from 9 a.m. to noon.
Registration for Reaching Out began at 8 a.m. Saturday March 26, in Shelton Theater.
To prepare for this university-driven project, junior theology and philosophy major Potts said, “We simply made some phone calls to some locations and asked them if they wanted some help. Some of these sites were Helping Hands, BCYC, Temple Animal Shelter, Family Promise, Families in Crisis Center, Hope for the Hungry and the Ronald McDonald House.”
Something different this year was the registration and organization at Shelton Theater, which made the process easier according to sophomore accounting and finance major Audrey Ohendalski who worked at the Family Promise site in Temple.
“They had the groups set up outside for you to pick which site you were headed to with donuts and juice,” Ohendalski said. “Then you went inside Shelton for explanations and worship, which was really nice because they separated the chaotic area of scheduling and time and space set aside for worship. Then we went back outside, and they had driving instructions on the tables where the sign-ups had been. The people in charge did a great job keeping everything perfectly flowing.”
So what makes UMHB students so eager to participate in Reaching Out?
Sophomore nursing major Emma Smith, who worked at the Families in Crisis Center site, said, “I decided to do it because I like to serve others but find it hard to really serve alone, and it’s much more rewarding to me to be able to serve with friends and other UMHB-ers. My favorite part is seeing the reactions from the people at the work sites after the job is done because they are so happy and it’s a huge deal to them when to me it was a simple, easy task that made a huge impact.”
Besides being able to give back to community, Ohendalski said she liked the social aspect of it as well.
“I like meeting all the new people to work with and also the people at the various organizations that we get to go help out.”
Reaching Out also gives students a chance to connect with some of the various organizations in the Belton/Temple area, and many of the students continue to volunteer for those organizations afterwards.
With the improvement of the organization, the great turn-out from students, and the positive feedback from the site locations, the event this semester proved to be a success.
Being a part of Reaching Out is a way to connect with God, Potts said.
“The most important aspect of this event is that it provides students the opportunity to praise God with action, not just word,” Potts said. “But I also like that it provides our student body an opportunity to gather together to serve the community that loves our university so much.”