This semester, Reaching Out provided an opportunity for Crusader service and fostered an unlikely bond between a volunteer and an elderly woman.
Clad in coral Reaching Out T-shirts and sneakers, students, faculty and staff spread their Crusader spirit and Christ’s love across the communities of Temple and Belton on Sep. 22.
Sophomore graphic design major Brittany Davis not only lent a helping hand, but made a new friend at her service location.
“The highlight of my day was meeting one of the elderly people at the nursing home …. Her name was Willy Mae and I thought she was the sweetest thing. She told me all about her grandkids, everything going on in her life. I really enjoyed it. It could not have been a better day.”
Davis volunteered at Crestview Manor, a nursing home in Belton. Though she had never participated in the event before, she looks forward to other opportunities in the future because of the impact it made on her own life.
“When you think about it, this is our Saturday. We are in college, so of course we want to sleep in on the weekend. Usually, I wouldn’t even be awake right now. Instead, I’ve already had a full day of service because of Reaching Out…. It was such a great day, and I had so much fun,” she said.
This bi-annual event has become tradition for the university, with each semester bringing new chances and places to serve. It allows students, faculty and staff to dedicate their Saturday to a variety of different causes.
Senior Christian ministry major and director of spiritual life for Student Government Association Ryan Murphy organized the event with the other class chaplains this year.
“We had some exciting new sites this year like cleaning up Nolan Creek and helping out at a local horse farm, Hope Unbridled. Students organized library books, painted houses and offices, organized, gardened, trimmed trees and more… in addition to the ‘regulars’ of Reaching Out like First Baptist Belton, Helping Hands and Habitat for Humanity,” Murphy said.
Volunteers gathered at 8 a.m. at Luther Memorial to begin signing up for service opportunities. Doughnuts and juice were also provided, because nothing draws in college students like free pastries. The new T-shirts were a hit as well.
“This event truly captures the heart of service UMHB seeks to instill in all of its students, so I wanted to make sure every student that showed up on Saturday would have breakfast and a place to serve. I also wanted to create a Reaching Out shirt that stood out among years past. I think I accomplished both,” Murphy said.
After this fellowship time, volunteers heard a message from Director of Campus Activities Mike McCarthy.
He talked about the importance of being the hands and feet of God, and about how stepping out of the UMHB “bubble” is the key to being a servant of Christ.
To stretch any tired muscles, Director of Baptist Student Ministries Shawn Shannon provided a little morning yoga with her famous rendition of “Big Watermelon.” This is a favorite that not only limbers up the limbs, but lightens the mood and prepares students and staff for a fun-filled day of work in the community.
New freshmen like education major Alana Filban enjoyed participating in this Crusader tradition. She and quite a few other students participated in painting First Baptist Belton’s college building. Afterward, they picked up trash and debris.
“I helped paint a house and clean a playground. I look forward to other service opportunities because it was great to see the reaction of people to college kids doing service. I felt really good helping out in the community,” Filban said.
At the end of the day, Crusaders retired their weary hands and feet, ready for a well-deserved nap.
Murphy was pleased with the turnout, and the attitudes of those present.
He said, “It is really neat to see how college students are willing and able to give up their one day to sleep in so that they can be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. We had so many people show up. Three hundred fifty T-shirts were ordered, and every single one of them was given out .… I was very pleased with the turnout.”