Fall break volunteers

barren springsEleven LC students traveled to the community of Barren Springs, Virginia, over fall break to help teachers and students at an elementary school, fill bags of food, and split wood for some elderly residents.

“Working in Barren Springs reminded me that by helping others in even the smallest way, I can change someone’s day from mediocre to great, including my own,” said Evelyn (Evy) Keeney-Ritchie ’16, a biomedical science major from Atlanta, Ga., who was making her second trip there.

The students traveled with Chris Gibbons, director of the Office of Community Involvement (formerly SERVE), to help out as needed. For five of the students, it was a return trip.

Since the fall of 2010, LC students have created a special relationship with the people of Barren Springs, located in rural Wythe County.

LC’s inaugural visit started as an alternative service break when students spent four  days helping the Neighbor 2 Neighbor program, a community-based effort developed by the folks in Barren Springs, led by Sam Crawford, who provides housing and food for the LC volunteers.

On the most recent trip, LC students filled bags with food to help 75 low-income families who do not have enough food to make it through the weekends away from free school lunches. The students tucked jars of peanut butter, packets of crackers, and cans of tuna into bags. Nearly 70 percent of students at Jackson Memorial School are on free or reduced lunch, Crawford said.

barren springsStudents also spent a full day in classes at Oakland Elementary School in neighboring  Carroll County, where they pitched in with writing assignments, gave reading assessments, and played on the playground. The volunteers all said they were worn out by the hard work, which teachers do every day.

“Trying to get everyone to calm down is like impossible,” said Ryan Barrera ’16, a business administration major from Rahwah, N.J.

Liz Clemens ’14, a nursing major from Chesapeake, Va., who has been to Barren Springs several times, said this trip was bittersweet. “Every time is filled with new experiences and adventures,” she wrote in her reflection after the trip. “Because I am graduating in May, I especially treasured this trip since it was my last trip with LC. This time, I realized how self-sufficient and sustainable Sam and his family are. Most of the food they eat is grown or raised on their farm, even the beef they have from the cows. I ate grapes straight from the vine that they grow on their porch. They were the best grapes that I’ve ever tasted! We also picked the corn that was left on the stalks, shucked it, and sorted it into piles to make either cornmeal or chicken feed… I am really fascinated by and love the rural way of living demonstrated in Barren Springs. I think it is really neat how they try to use every single part of everything they produce.”

Henry Deadrick ’14, a communication studies major from Dover, Mass., said the trip provided an amazing fall break. “I admit I was hesitant at first but as the trip progressed I fell in love with the group and Barren Springs and had a genuinely great time,” he said. “I have a very weird philosophy that people are tied and bound by being the same species and therefore should help each other out.”