Ouachita Baptist University’s Tiger Serve Day, one of the largest community service projects in the state of Arkansas, set a record with more than 1,000 volunteers serving throughout Arkadelphia on Saturday, Sept. 24.
The semi-annual community service blitz, now in its 15th year, attracted 1,003 Ouachita students, faculty and staff members who completed almost 100 service projects ranging from yard work to painting to minor home repairs for senior adults and other residents throughout the area.
The student-led event is sponsored each semester by Ouachita’s Ben M. Elrod Center for Family & Community. Since Tiger Serve Day’s debut in 1997 in response to a devastating tornado that hit Arkadelphia, volunteers have logged more than 49,000 hours of community service.
This fall’s record turnout was especially significant as part of the university’s 125th anniversary celebration. Tiger Serve Day also was recognized earlier this year as one of Arkadelphia’s Volunteer Organizations of the Year.
“Today marked a special milestone in the history of Tiger Serve Day as over 1,000 volunteers turned out to serve our community in honor of Ouachita 125th anniversary,” said Elrod Center Director Ian Cosh, OBU’s vice president for community and international engagement. “What started 15 years ago has become one of the most significant volunteer events in the state of Arkansas with a participation rate of over 62 percent of our student body.”
Kristen Barnard, a sophomore mass communications major, described Tiger Serve Day as “a really good way to … serve our community and just show them the love of Christ through serving.”
“One of our important core values at Ouachita is service,” Cosh said. “Tiger Serve Day expresses to our community the value we place on friendship and the responsibility we accept for being a good neighbor.
“Tiger Serve Day provides a leadership development opportunity for our students because it helps them to experience the joy of service and the fulfillment that comes from giving back to others,” he added. “What better way to thank our community for their support over 125 years than to provide an event in which the focus is totally on meeting the needs of others.”
Even with the huge number of people and projects involved in this fall’s event, the day still ran smoothly and was a success.
“The leadership team worked really hard in the days leading up to the day to visit all of the projects and record the details of what needed to be done as well as directions and information about the people who would be served, “ said Judy Duvall, assistant director of the Elrod Center. “This made everything pretty much run like clockwork.”
One of the reasons Tiger Serve Day has continued to grow is the satisfaction the volunteers gain from their participation, Duvall added. “When the volunteers returned on Saturday, they were tired but genuinely pleased with the work they were able to do and happy with the relationships that were formed,” she noted. “There was great satisfaction from being able to serve.
“You won’t find another school like Ouachita that has almost two-thirds of their campus show up early on a Saturday morning to go out and serve the community,” she emphasized. “We are unique. I am really proud of our campus for putting their faith into action and coming out in full force to serve.”
Ouachita Baptist University, a private Christian liberal arts university in Arkadelphia, is ranked among “Best National Liberal Arts Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report and among “America’s Top Colleges” by Forbes magazine. Serving since 1886 as a Christ-centered learning community, Ouachita has a current enrollment of 1,594 students from more than 30 states and 40 nations.
For more information about Tiger Serve Day, contact the Elrod Center at 870-245-5320 or visit www.obu.edu/serve.