NORTH NEWTON, KAN. - The Bethel College community participated in its annual Service Day on April 9, a day when classes closed to allow students, faculty and staff the opportunity to commit to doing community service. About 225 college volunteers participated in activities at 25 sites in Harvey and surrounding counties, demonstrating Bethel's emphasis on the importance of peacemaking and voluntary service.
Some of the work included moving furniture for a domestic violence shelter, making art supplies for a nursery school and pricing items in a thrift store in Newton. Other work took students to service assignments at Interfaith Ministries in Wichita and Camp Mennoscah near Murdock.
In spite of a broken wrist injured at the end of basketball season, senior Jarod Powell of Wright with seven other students taped around windows and brushed primer onto the exterior of Kaufman House on College Avenue in North Newton. The house is being renovated for use by the college's Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution; completion date is the end of June.
Powell had not participated in planned service activities until his freshman year at Bethel. "At first I thought it was ridiculous to shut down the college for a day to do service. Now I don't think that way. It's a real good idea to support the community that supports the college." Powell, a business administration major, expects to continue to do acts of service in the community where he lives after his May graduation.
Service Day also offered some students the opportunity to work in their chosen fields. Nursing faculty and 26 nursing students met with residents at Kansas Christian Home in Newton to help them complete a resident satisfaction survey. Education professor Judith Miller and 13 education majors worked at Sunset Elementary School in Newton, helping with a used book sale and filling 1,500 plastic Easter eggs with candy.
"I thought I was going to have Easter egg nightmares," said Stephanee DeWald, junior from Otis, after working at Sunset. "I'd never seen so many Easter eggs at once, but it was fun to be in the school interacting with the kids."
Sports teams also worked together. Seventeen football players and three coaches shoveled dirt, hoed weeds and hammered plaster off brick walls at Newton's Nehemiah Project to continue efforts to turn the former Axtell Hospital into housing for people with AIDS.
"We had 100 percent of our football team doing service work at various locations," says head coach Mike Moore. "The work at the Nehemiah Project was a very good experience for the guys. We have a great group of young people who seemed to move beyond their own needs to an eagerness to return to the Project to do more work. They have a need to give something back to the broader community."
On campus, Scott Janzen, freshman from Henderson, Neb., was among students who hauled wood chips and rocks to maintain the trail along the Sand Creek on campus and the bridge over the creek. Working with them was Bethel alumnus Jacob D. Goering from North Newton, whose continued efforts have turned the woodsy area into a usable walking trail.
Other efforts served the global community. Sophomore Lacey Graber of Freeman, S.D., and others worked at Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), packing kits for MCC work in Iraq and other locations.