The university is offering a chance for a positive life-changing experience.
Local agencies and non-profits including Big Brothers Big Sisters, Hendrick Equine Rehabilitation Opportunities (H.E.R.O.) and Young Life will be available to students 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday in the Campus Center.
“We hope that it will expose students to service opportunities that they might not otherwise have and therefore create in them that heart for service,” said Rita Harrell, administrative coordinator for service-learning and volunteer resources.
The Service Expo educates students on the values of volunteering and the resources available in the community. Sponsored by the SLVR, the annual event stands for more than just finding a way to meet service requirements.
“Many students are from out of town, out of state, out of the country,” Harrell said. “The expo gives them an opportunity to be exposed to the community in which they are now residing.”
Harrell said she hopes this exposure will inspire students to reach out to the community through service.
Some students said volunteering opened their eyes to look at the world and their lives differently. Sean Marmolejo, sophomore psychology major from China Spring, began working with Treadaway Kids a year ago and now serves as president of the organization.
“The one thing that I have gotten out of this experience so far is the realization of how much I do love kids,” said Marmolejo. “I have always loved working with kids but it was like God was showing me what he was wanting to use my talents for. I would do anything for this group.”
Brie Buschman, sophomore communications major from Amarillo and volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters, said she has also gained new insights on life.
“It allows us to serve others and gain a new appreciation for community,” Buschman said.
The act of volunteering and serving others is embedded in the university’s mission statement of “training students for Christian service and leadership throughout the world.” One way ACU accomplishes this mission is by offering a number of courses and on-campus organizations that require service hours.
Serving the community is part of the curriculum in Curt Niccum’s courses. Niccum, associate professor of Bible, missions and ministry, believes volunteering occasions serve as something more important than fulfilling class demands.
“I find myself fighting against the idea that Christianity is primarily a book religion or that faith is just an activity of the mind,” Niccum said. “Some have lost how Christianity is a transformed life that is actively involved in transforming the lives of others.
He recalled witnessing past student’s life-changing experiences through work with these agencies.
“I’ve had students change their majors because they felt called to work with the blind for the rest of their life,” Niccum said. “Occasionally you just have those few students that really, really catch on, and it is transforming.”
Treadaway Kids advisor Samantha Manski agrees that students gain something more beneficial than credit hours.
“Volunteering and service is a part of who I am,” said Manski. “Serving others makes us healthier people, in mind, body and spirit.”