Monday, September 27, 2004

GC students, faculty and staff offer hands and hearts for a day of service


GOSHEN, Ind. – Almost 400 students, staff and faculty once again participated in a fall tradition at Goshen College when they spent a day volunteering in the community instead of taking classes during the sixth annual Celebrate Service Day on Sept. 22.


After a send-off and pep rally for all volunteers, groups assigned to many different tasks headed out to their sites, ready to serve.

A group of 20 student volunteers, all members of a psychology class, helped pack school kits and blankets, to be sent to families around the world, at Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Great Lakes Depot. Christina Liechty, a freshman from Wellman, Iowa, said she appreciated the service site and the work because she “liked the idea that it is helping MCC and those in need.”

Depot organizer Michelle Norman appreciated the assistance and said, “Big groups are nice because you get a lot done quickly. It’s a little crazy, but it is good.”


Part of a group that volunteered to hammer and saw at a Habitat for Humanity house was a group of upperclass men who live together. Senior Daniel King, a music and physics double major from Danville, Ill., said, “We all signed up as a house. It is a way of bonding and doing something good together.”

Jason Schmucker, a senior physics major from Holland, Ohio, said that he worked with Habitat for Humanity while he was in the Dominican Republic for his Study-Service Term through Goshen College. “I thought I should see what it is like to work for Habitat in the U.S. too,” he said. “It feels good to do physical labor and it is a great day.”

Goshen College and College Mennonite Church are jointly sponsoring a different Habitat for Humanity home in Goshen to be built Oct. 9-13, during the college’s fall break. The home is coincidentally for one of the college’s custodians, Vernard Malone and his family.

Ben Herendeen, a junior English major from Goshen, was part of a team helping Goshen Parks and Recreation dig up irises and other plants and store them for winter on Celebrate Service Day. He welcomed the opportunity to give back to his own community and recognized that service can be done anywhere. “In some ways you forget about the community when you are on campus, until you get to do something like this,” he said. “There is a lot to do in your own backyard.”

More than 30 area agencies and organizations were service sites, including Bashor Children’s Home, Camp Fire Council of Elkhart County, Center for Healing and Hope, Greencroft, LaCasa, Mirror Valley Retreat, Oaklawn, The Post, Real Services, Soup of Success, Walnut Hill Early Childhood Center, The Window, Youth for Christ/Lifeline, Real Services, Michiana Mennonite Relief Sale, Mennonite Disabilities Committee, Maple City Health Care Center, Loveway, Indiana Lakeland Girl Scout Council, Elkhart County Historical Museum, Camp Friedenswald, Boys and Girls Club of Goshen, Nappanee and Middlebury, ADEC and Amigo Centre.

Some students served right on campus – doing cleaning to lend an extra hand to campus offices responsible for their own vacuuming. With canister vacuums strapped on their backs, student activities assistants walked into offices to the theme song from the movie “Ghostbusters” playing on a portable CD player, which was, appropriate to their cleaning attire and brought an additional spirit of fun to the day.


Though this is one day of the year set aside by the campus for doing community service, “several hundred students individually or in small groups take on regular community service projects,” according to GC Campus Minister Sylvia Shirk Charles. Some students serve on their own initiative or as part of class assignments, while others serve through their churches. Celebrate Service Day introduces many students to volunteer opportunities in the area and the college also hosts a day for local agencies to solicit student interest.

Goshen College, established in 1894, is a four-year residential Christian liberal arts college rooted in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. The college’s Christ-centered core values – passionate learning, global citizenship, compassionate peacemaking and servant-leadership – prepare students as leaders for the church and world. Recognized for its unique Study-Service Term program, Goshen has earned citations of excellence in Barron’s Best Buys in Education, “Colleges of Distinction,” “Making a Difference College Guide” and U.S.News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” edition, which named Goshen a “least debt college.” Visit

Editors: For more information, contact News Bureau Director Jodi H. Beyeler at (574) 535-7572 or


Goshen College
1700 S Main St
Goshen, Indiana 46526
phone: +1 (574) 535-7569
fax: 535-7660