More than 1,500 students attend Ouachita Baptist University, and on Saturday, April 6, nearly 1,000 of them will hit the streets – in service.
Tiger Serve Day kicks off at 8:30 a.m. as students, faculty and staff gather at the Ben M. Elrod Center for Family & Community, eat a quick breakfast, pick up the tools needed to complete their tasks and travel out into the community for a morning of raking, window washing, house painting and numerous other jobs.
This semester’s Tiger Serve Day theme is “One Body. Many Hands.” It highlights the widespread involvement of volunteers focused on a common goal as nearly two-thirds of Ouachita students participate in community service.
The idea for Tiger Serve Day began in 1997. A group of student leaders decided to take a day out of the semester and serve the community. The original name for Tiger Serve Day was Into the Streets, which other schools were using for their service project names a well.
But severe weather thwarted that idea.
On March 1, 1997, a historic tornado ripped through southern Arkansas, leaving many residents’ homes in ruin and providing students a golden, yet sobering, opportunity to serve the community. Ouachita’s Elrod Center has kept that community service tradition alive for 16 years and counting.
Students, faculty and staff converge from across campus to help serve the needs of the community. It isn’t service rendered out of a sense of obligation, but with the care and affection of the volunteers for those being served.
“I love it because it binds us together as a university in the common task of looking out for others and discovering the joy of service,” said Ian Cosh, vice president for community and international engagement.
Colby Harper, a junior Christian studies and Christian theology major from Crossett, Ark., said he cherishes “being used by God to impact lives through service and the love of Christ.”
Bill Vining, retired longtime Ouachita basketball coach and professor emeritus of physical education, has been served by Tiger Serve Day since it began. “I think I’ve been served about every year,” he said. He described the semi-annual community service emphasis as a “No. 1 operation,” and said that the day not only benefits him greatly but also benefits the students who volunteer.
“It’s definitely a catalyst to be more involved in the community of Arkadelphia outside of Ouachita,” agreed Sadie Sasser, a freshman Christian studies/Biblical studies and psychology major from Hamburg, Ark. “And it also teaches me to be more content with my possessions and my abilities.”
Volunteers are united in mind and spirit, and they even unify through appearance – they match. Each semester, the Tiger Serve Day leadership team creates a theme for the day and designs a t-shirt to give to each of the volunteers. Typically, these shirts will be bright colors to stand out as they travel to homes. This helps people in the community see the work that Ouachita volunteers are doing all morning.
For more information on Tiger Serve Day, visit www.obu.edu/serve or call the Elrod Center at (870) 245-5320.
By Garet West