Meeting the needs of more than 120 individuals, families and organizations in the Arkadelphia area, Ouachita Baptist University’s semi-annual Tiger Serve Day attracted more than 970 volunteers during the March 31 community service blitz.
Tiger Serve Day, which began in 1997 in the wake of a devastating tornado that hit Arkadelphia, is one of the largest community service efforts in the state of Arkansas. During the past 15 years, students, faculty and staff members have logged more than 50,000 community service hours.
Sponsored by Ouachita’s Ben M. Elrod Center for Family & Community, Tiger Serve Day is coordinated by a team of student volunteers who spend several weeks each semester planning and preparing for the semi-annual event.
Participants gathered at the Elrod Center at 8:30 a.m. for breakfast and to pick up needed tools before fanning out to do yard work, house cleaning and minor repair projects while building relationships with residents throughout the area. Sodexo provided breakfast for the volunteers and Southern Bancorp provided lunch.
This spring’s Tiger Serve Day effort included 971 volunteers who divided into 111 teams and completed 128 projects for individuals, families, churches and other organizations in the Arkadelphia area. It marks the largest spring Tiger Serve Day in history. Last fall’s Tiger Serve Day topped 1,000 volunteers for the first time ever, involving more than 60 percent of Ouachita students.
“Tiger Serve Day mainly impacts the senior adult population of Arkadelphia,” explained Tiger Serve Day coordinator Judy Duvall, assistant director of the Elrod Center. “Many are not able to do the work themselves and the free labor is a huge cost savings to them.”
Jerry and Barbara Schleiff are among Arkadelphia residents who have benefited from the work of several Tiger Serve Day teams over the past few years.
“They do an amazing job,” Mrs. Schleiff said. “They’re such good workers and we just appreciate them so much. … We get a lot of things done that otherwise we couldn’t get done.
“I think it’s exciting to see students and the community coming together in a wonderful way,” she added. “It’s a great blessing to older people and everyone else they help.”
“The students genuinely have hearts to serve and care about the community,” Duvall emphasized. “I’m really proud of our students.
“The day would not happen without the leadership team’s involvement. They are involved with every aspect of the day,” she added. “They are a smart and creative group of servant leaders who work hard to make this day happen for our campus and the community.”
“Being a part of the Tiger Serve Day leadership team is my favorite thing I am involved in at Ouachita,” said Jessica Stewart, a sophomore mass communications and Christian media/communications major from Mansfield, Texas. “Being on this team has taught me that service is a way of life. While we work hard for one day a semester, our ultimate goal is that Tiger Serve Day would open a door of opportunity for students to choose to serve all the time, all year round.”
“Tiger Serve Day is a great way to come out and enjoy some fellowship with people you don’t normally see on campus,” said T.C. Squires, a senior mathematics, secondary education and Spanish major from Sherwood, Ark. “It’s just a great way to encourage each other and to bond through the service project.”
Jeremy Prine, a senior church music major from Hazen, Ark, described Tiger Serve Day as “a good reminder of how we all need service sometimes.”
“That’s what we’re called to do as followers of Christ – to love and serve people,” Prine said. “So it’s a good opportunity to get with your friends and your brothers and just to serve other people and have fun doing that.”
“I think it’s a great way to show the love of Christ to people in the community of Arkadelphia,” agreed Brittney Jones, a junior business administration major from Texarkana, Ark. She said it also is “really fun to hang out with your friends and laugh and cut up while you’re helping other people.”
For more information about Tiger Serve Day, visit www.obu.edu/serve or contact the Elrod Center at (870) 245-5320.
By Trennis Henderson, OBU vice president for communications