Centre students form Salvation Army volunteer 'Corps'

December 21, 2003|EMILY BURTON

They have been called the unsung heroes of the community. The product of their volunteer work has helped feed and clothe hundreds of needy families.

And man, can they throw a party.

The students of Centre College come to school in Danville for a higher education, but in the process, leave footprints in the community that last beyond their collective four-year degrees. They play bingo at nursing homes and wash dogs for the Humane Society. They read "Where the Wild Things Are" to children waiting to be paired with a Big Brother or Big Sister, and hold impromptu monster parades in the street.

This year their efforts went beyond the call of duty, said Captain Zack Bell of the Salvation Army. From New Year's Day to Christmas Eve, Centre College students have been a blessing for the community, he said.

"Centre College has been absolutely fabulous," said Bell. "They have been an angel of hope through the year."


Freshmen from the college have worked with community service organizations to help improve the town through enthusiastic volunteer efforts, including the Salvation Army.

They ring bells for the Salvation Army Kettle campaign, they sort and clean clothing at the Salvation Army store, and they buy gifts for needy families through the Angel Tree program.

"They encompass all three areas of volunteerism; donation of money, giving time and buying angel of hope gifts," said Bell.

Sometimes, the students even forget it is an assignment.

Centre freshman are required to undertake a community service project. That policy was first implemented in 1992 and has grown into a vital part of the Centre College education experience.

"It begins with our freshman service project in the fall," said Trina McFarland, director of service and leadership development at the college. "We let students know that service is a part of our culture here at Centre, so we include the Salvation Army as part of our service project."

This year the students adopted more than 60 angels from Angel of Hope trees around the community, buying clothes and toys for children whose Christmases might not have been so bright otherwise.

Bell said the college took "quite a number" of angels, "but volunteering is where they are superior."

Volunteering is not just a required course at Centre; student organizations also volunteered to be ambassadors of hope this year.

"It was called, "Calling all Kappas," said McFarland. "Instead of trick-or-treating for candy, they trick-or-treated for canned food. They collected so much a (Salvation Army) truck had to come and pick it up."

Three Greek organizations on campus came together to gather the food, including Kappa Kappa Gamma, Phi Kappa Tau and Kappa Alpha Feta.

McFarland said a hearty meal was not the only gift given this year.

"The Salvation Army, and all of the other agencies, do a service for us, because the students learn so much serving other people," said McFarland. "... I had a student approach me in the hall and volunteer to organize the bell ringing (for the Salvation Army) because she had such a good time."

McFarland said the culture of selflessness among the student body has grown to the point that students anticipate the beginning of the Angel tree program and ask when it will begin, weeks in advance. This year there were more students wanting to ring bells for the Red Kettle campaign than there were available time slots.

Bell said the college can always be counted on to help the community, and expressed his gratitude for their efforts.

"They have really been a blessing in the community," said Bell. "They really do represent an angel of hope."

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