With the ongoing pandemic and its many restrictions, the University of Lynchburg’s Center for Community Engagement has had to rethink how it helps the community, on campus and off.
Starting last spring, the center created monthly “service plunges” with various community organizations. So far, they have worked with Park View Community Mission’s Food for Thought packaging backpacks of food for Lynchburg City Schools students; World Help, and disaster-relief organization Gleaning for the World as well as campus grounds and maintenance.
On campus, the CCE has offered “grab and go” service projects for students to complete in their rooms. They have made blankets for cancer patients, created cards for students in quarantine, and dog toys for the Lynchburg Humane Society.
Students from many different majors and clubs have participated.
“It’s awesome. We have some Bonner students who have remote projects, helping with policy and procedures, donor relations, and developing social media plans,” CCE director Cindy Ferguson said. “We’ve been fortunate because other Bonner programs are not allowing students to go out into their communities.
“We have set up guidelines with partners. Typically our students work with students from other campuses, but at this time and due to different campus guidelines, our policy is not to work with these students to keep our community and our campus safe.”
Ferguson thinks there has been an increase in student participation since adding more on-campus events. They already have plans next year to partner with the Student Government Association for bigger projects and more work with faculty.
“The things we are doing are very impactful. Our center is very new and it’s growing. This idea of our partnership with nonprofits is more transformational, and we are thinking ‘What are the ways we are meeting the needs of our communities?’” Ferguson said.
This service-oriented mindset has even extended to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program which, for the first time, participated in the National DPT Day of Service in October. Approximately 60 students participated.
During National Volunteer Month, held in April, the CCE is hosting a series of community service programs. Almost every weekend, there is something for the campus community to participate in:
- April 10 – April Service Plunge, various locations, sign up form
- April 21 – Outdoor Leadership Program College Lake Cleanup
- April 22 – Earth Day Project – highway/street cleanup
- April 24 – Relay for Life Movie Night – donations collected, and OLP Cleanup on Appalachian Trail
- April 28 – Blood Drive, sign up form
For more information about participating in upcoming service projects, email email@example.com.