Carol Perry awoke on the morning of September 27 with no idea that a group of 40 young men scheduled to do volunteer work on her house would make such a difference in her day—and in her home. “I didn’t know anybody would do anything like that,” recalls Perry. “It was just amazing.”
“I was in a lot of need for help to get things done,” she said. The team members of Ouachita Baptist University’s Tiger baseball team completed tasks that had been a nuisance to Perry for months. They scraped paint off her house, tore out a bathroom and cleaned debris littering her yard from recent flooding.
Perry was one of dozens of people in the community that benefited from Ouachita’s 12th annual fall Tiger Serve Day (TSD). With 59 teams, 69 projects, 624 volunteers and 2,000 hours of service, this TSD had the largest turnout since the inaugural day of service following the tornado that devastated Arkadelphia in March of 1997. The large number of volunteers totaled 44% of the Ouachita student body.
“More and more students are seeing the value of service and want to be involved,” said Judy Duvall, assistant director of the Ben M. Elrod Center for Family and Community. “Service is an integral part of who we are as Ouachitonians.”
“The college years can potentially be the most selfish years of a student’s life,” said Lindsey Baker, a junior member of the TSD student leadership team. “Tiger Serve Day reverses that mindset. Instead of being self-centered, it makes us others-centered.”
Duvall also attributed much of the day’s success to the student leadership team. “Our leadership team did a great job of getting the word out, contacting folks and talking up the day.”
The leadership team began preparing for TSD during the first week of school in August. “The leadership team is comprised of a wide range of students representing many groups across campus,” explained Marci Morgan, a senior member of the leadership team. “We set goals and work together in order to accomplish them.”
“One of the goals of the leadership team this year was to find projects/people that had not been served before. Almost half of the folks served were people that had never heard about Tiger Serve Day,” Duvall said. “We felt like we were especially able to meet great needs among senior adults, the disabled and organizations that depend on volunteers for support. We were pretty excited about this.
“The team was also very committed to pray for all aspects of the day in the month leading up to the event. We tried to be dependent on God for every aspect of the day,” she added. “I feel like all of us learned a lot through that experience.”
Members of the community were deeply grateful for the service Ouachita provided them. “I would like to thank all who helped in the work the young people did for the older folk of the city,” said one appreciative recipient.
Another community member’s note of appreciation stated, writing, “Thanks so much for Tiger Serve Day. The girls were so sweet and worked really hard cleaning the big yard and cleaning up our little canning kitchen which was a mess. Please tell the girls we thank them so much and will look forward to next year. God takes care of us in so many ways. We love you all.”
“It just makes you feel good to know that you are helping to make a difference in someone’s life,” said Morgan. “In what may seem like an insignificant amount of time, with the hands of over 600 people, big things can be accomplished.”
“To have them do something that I couldn’t was more than I could ever imagine,” Perry said. “The good feelings will follow for a very long time.”
by Hayden Tucker