While few college students enjoy rising early on a Saturday morning after a long week of classes, the lawn outside Ouachita’s Ben M. Elrod Center for Family & Community was packed with students, faculty and staff eager to serve their community on Tiger Serve Day.
With the sound of jazz music and the aroma of Krispy Kreme donuts filling the air, volunteers divided into their groups, grabbed their tools and headed off to their assignments. The volunteers completed a variety of jobs ranging from yard work and cleaning to washing cars and minor home repair projects.
A record 694 volunteers joined together in 62 teams the morning of Sept. 26 to complete 80 service projects in and around Arkadelphia as part of the 13th annual Fall Tiger Serve Day at Ouachita Baptist University. This semester’s total included a 16-member alumni team that completed a project in Little Rock. The latest efforts contribute to approximately 39,000 hours of community service TSD has recorded since its inception in 1997.
The 18 students who serve on the Tiger Serve Day Leadership Team work hard to ensure the semi-annual community service blitz goes smoothly.
“These students are chosen for their leadership and involvement in serving others,” said Judy Duvall, assistant director of the Elrod Center. “The team meets for one to two months before Tiger Serve Day to plan, organize and execute all aspects of the day from publicity to recruitment to finding and visiting projects to organizing and purchasing tools.”
Phillip Williamson, a senior Christian studies, political science and philosophy triple-major from Batesville, Ark., has been a part of the TSD Leadership Team for three years, this year leading the team recruitment effort. “I help find both individuals and organizations (social clubs, honor societies, freshman family groups, Campus Ministries, etc.) to form TSD teams,” Williamson said. “I also recruit faculty and staff to form teams with their students or even families.”
The hard work the leadership team does for Tiger Serve Day does not go unnoticed. Emma Smith, a junior mass communications major from Little Rock, noted, “They did a great job of organizing TSD. It ran very smoothly.”
This was Smith’s third year to participate in Tiger Serve Day. “I enjoy Tiger Serve Day because I love being able to share God’s love with people in the community,” she said.
“This year, I went to two places — first to an older man’s house where we cleaned up his carport and organized his storage room, and then we went to an older lady’s house that lived with her mother who had dementia,” Smith said. “She was so excited that we were there because she never has any company. As she started to cry, you could just tell she felt blessed to have us there. While we power washed her house, she showed us old family albums.”
“There is something wonderful about so many people gathering together to meet needs,” Duvall said. “As 600 volunteers disperse throughout this small community, a spirit of encouragement, joy and hope is given to the community.
“The teams that work together bond and new friendships are formed. The individuals that are served are greatly helped and needs are met,” she added. “Many times the relationships formed on this day between volunteers and individuals in the community continue and service is provided throughout the year. Through all of this, Christ is honored.”
Emphasizing the significance of Tiger Serve Day, Duvall concluded, “It reminds students that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. One of our recurring themes for TSD is, ‘I’m getting over myself,’ and it hopefully encourages students to make service not just a one-time event, but a part of everyday life. It also provides a service to the community and helps bridge the gap between our ‘bubble’ here and the real world around us.”
By Meg Gosser