By Denton Josey, Student Reporter
The university will team up with Hardin Simmons University and McMurry University to serve Abilene for the Intercollegiate Community Celebration on Saturday.
Similar to ACU’s Service Saturdays, the service project will match students from each of the three participating schools with needs in Abilene’s community.
Dr. Cole Bennett, director of the Writing Center and assistant English professor, helped coordinate the event for the second year in a row.
Bennett said in an e-mail that students will be “working in the areas near each of the three universities, helping our neighbors with whatever needs have been identified by them. Some students will also be working in local non-profit agencies who always need our help.”
While the opportunity to unite the schools took careful planning, the focus of the day is on the community.
“Our goal is to support ongoing relationships and begin new ones with our local communities as well as serve together as a unified college force,” Bennett said.
“We want to send the message to Abilene that college students-as a collective whole-care about our neighbors,” Bennett said.
“Each of the three universities has its own neighborhood, and each has its own plans for establishing neighborhood relationships, many of which are ongoing and at different levels of execution,” Bennett said. “Some efforts lend themselves to combining together, and some don’t.”
Bennett said all the schools were willing to participate.
“We all three jumped in together. From the very first meeting this year, there was a great synergy.”
Each of the universities has busy schedules but because of planning that began at the beginning of the school year, the event is now ready to take place.
“We attempted it a number of times; the biggest problem is usually finding a date,” Bennett said.
It is difficult for coordinators to determine the level of participation, but the event has no limits on the number of volunteers. Linda Carleton, coordinator of Neighborhood Programs at Hardin Simmons University, said she expects good participation.
“We’re hoping to have anywhere from 50 to 100,” Carleton said.
The schedule for the celebration has volunteers meeting at City Hall at 8:30 a.m. for breakfast and a blessing from university leaders and then heading out into the community to meet and serve neighbors.
In the evening, faculty from the universities will have students in their homes for dinner and reflection on the day. As a conclusion to the activities, McMurry will host an after-dinner celebration for all taking part, Bennett said.
Last year the three colleges had a similar event, but bad weather affected the participation and influence, Carleton said.