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R-MC Students Help Others Through Community Service

Sep 08, 2017

9/14/17

Randolph-Macon prides itself on being a caring and compassionate community. Students regularly engage in community service—giving back to others with their time, energy and talent.

The SERVE (Students Engaged in Responsible Volunteer Experiences) program is just one way that students can help others. SERVE provides students with opportunities for volunteerism and service-learning, leadership development and explores the root causes and contexts of social needs through connections with the greater community.

Promoting Inclusion and Community Service
SERVE-1The Arc of Hanover, located in Ashland, Virginia, recently was awarded a grant by The Arc of the United States and the Corporation for National and Community Service. The grant is being used to fund Inclusive Volunteering for Hunger, a project designed to promote inclusion and community service with a focus on hunger and food assistance. SERVE students are vital to the project’s success.

At The Arc of Hanover, R-MC students pair up with individuals with developmental disabilities and work together. Teams perform a variety of tasks: collecting produce from local farms; packaging meals; and delivering meals. Psychology major Dylan Thompson '19 says volunteering with The Arc of Hanover is rewarding for everyone involved.

"Working with people from The Arc of Hanover is such an enlightening experience," says Thompson. "Too often, special-needs people are seen as 'others,' but I enjoy talking to and working with them and learning about how they experience life. What the Arc of Hanover is doing is a wonderful thing. Volunteering has opened my eyes to the importance of charitable organizations and initiatives."

Going to the Dogs
SERVE-2Just north of Ashland, SERVE students work with some very special visitors: several dozen rescue dogs.

The canines, on their way to foster and rescue organizations in the Northeast, arrive from the Darlington County Humane Society (DCHS) in Darlington, South Carolina. The Ashland rest stop gives the dogs a much-needed break—and it gives R-MC students the opportunity to unleash some energy and make community connections. Students help unload DCHS vans, handle puppy play areas, walk adult dogs, and clean kennels.

Ian Shelley '18, a business major and political science minor, says volunteering is an opportunity to be outdoors, have fun and give help where it's needed.

"Caring for the dogs is a great way to get involved in the Ashland community," says Shelley, a football player and member of Phi Delta Theta. "We walk the dogs, clean up after them, and make sure that they drink water." Once the dogs have enjoyed their break, R-MC students help them back into their cages. The Ashland rest stop benefits animals and humans alike.

"The dogs, who are sometimes terrified from the transport experience, are so happy to get out of their crates to enjoy a walk and some one-on-one time with a human who is welcoming and reassuring," says Susan Albritton, who owns the farm where the pups and people gather. "Through this experience, Randolph Macon student-volunteers learn that each animal has love to give—and get. The students can enjoy a romp with a lab, sit quietly with a fearful traveler, or cuddle a puppy. A volunteer experience like this can have a lasting impact on everyone involved."

Athletes Tackle a Need for Blood
SERVE-3In 2017, Head Football Coach Pedro Arruza pulled his team together to sponsor a community blood drive for Virginia Blood Services. Members of the Randolph-Macon College community rolled up their sleeves for this good cause. which brought together students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of R-MC. In all, 35 units of blood were collected.

"I think it's important for our program to give to others," he says. "One of the best things about R-MC is the community support that our program gets—so it's important to give back. I think our players realize through these experiences that any time you sacrifice something for the good of others it is really rewarding. It helps them to see how their efforts fit into a much larger picture, and it gives them perspective." The football team also participates in year-round community service at John M. Gandy Elementary School, working with students in the school's Lunch Buddy program.

Hard Work + Community Service
SERVE-4Daniel Noe '18 knows that hard work and community service, both on and off the court, can add up to a lot of good.

Noe, an economics major, member of Junior Achievement (JA) and a standout on the basketball court, met weekly during fall and spring semesters 2017 with second-grade students at Henry Clay Elementary School (HCES) in Ashland, Virginia, where he helped them understand the fundamentals of economics. Junior Achievement brings volunteer role models from the community into K-12 classrooms to deliver programs that foster work readiness, entrepreneurship and personal finance.

Noe created fun projects that helped the students learn about community banking, division of labor, economic institutions, taxes, interdependence, jobs, money and business. He has been a member of JA since 2015, the same year he began working with the HCES students.

"I love working with HCES students," says Noe. "If they look forward to my visit each week, and I can make learning fun for them, then I have done a good job."

Rise Against Hunger
SERVE-5R-MC volunteers, along with members of the community, recently packaged meals for Rise Against Hunger (formerly Stop Hunger Now), a global network of volunteers who package millions of nutritious meals annually that are then distributed to partners in countries around the world.

At Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church, located on R-MC’s campus, members of Alpha Phi Omega, Kappa Alpha Theta and the football team, along with community members, donned hairnets, rolled up their sleeves and worked together as they packaged 10,584 meals. The meals were later shipped to those in need.

Members of the Yellow Jacket football team provided some much-needed muscle for the meal-packaging event.

"Their help was essential, and they were enthusiastic and eager to help," says R-MC Chaplain Kendra Grimes, who helped spread the word about Rise Against Hunger on campus. "The support of the football players, arriving early and staying late for set-up and break-down of the event, was a significant service to the church," says Grimes. "I love seeing this partnership between the church and the college, which creates the opportunity for us to come together to make an even bigger difference."

Giving Back
In 2016-17, R-MC students collectively amassed more than 17,000 volunteer hours and donated $47,075.00 to various causes. Students in Fraternity and Sorority Life contributed more than 10,049 hours of collective service to the community and donated $27,682.90 to various organizations and philanthropies. In addition, $14,000 was raised and donated to the American Cancer Society from the annual Relay for Life.

Over 300 students participated R-MC's second Big Event, a day of service to give thanks to the Ashland community. The Students Engaged in Responsible Volunteer Experiences (SERVE) program, in the Office of Student Life, is an integral part of Randolph-Macon College.