About 500 Samford University students will heed the challenge to "Grow Where You Are Planted" during this year's Samford Gives Back day of Service Saturday, April 12.
The volunteers will spend 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at several dozen work sites ranging from the American Red Cross to the Birmingham Zoo. They will clean, paint, landscape, entertain children….in short, tackle whatever needs doing to make a difference in many area residents' lives and surroundings.
Samford Gives Back is a campus-wide service initiative organized by the university's Office of Student Leadership and Community Engagement, and Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honor society.
Through their service experience, it is hoped that students will gain "a greater appreciation of the Birmingham community, awareness of opportunities to serve with local non-profits and ministries, and newfound understanding of Samford's commitment to social and civic responsibility through its values of service to God, to family, to one another and to the community," said Samford community engagement coordinator Laura Valentine.
The roster of 31 volunteering groups includes sororities, fraternities, academic societies and service organizations, as well as individuals who signed on to fill in however and wherever needed.
One cluster of individuals will team with a group of pre-pharmacy majors to work with the American Red Cross. In another pairing, University Ministries members will work alongside the International Student Leadership Council at a community garden clean-up in the East Thomas neighborhood.
The single largest volunteer group is made up of practically the entire membership of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority. Fifty members will assist with Tempo family fun festival at Birmingham's Railroad Park. Twenty others will work at Mitchell's Place, an early learning program for young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
All 500 Samford workers will begin the day with breakfast and a devotional at 8 a.m. in Seibert Stadium before heading out to their assigned projects.
Samford Gives Back student leadership team executive director Sydney Sanders hopes that the "Grow Where You Are Planted" theme will evoke a desire in Samford students to become more deeply rooted in the Birmingham community.
"College is a period of growth, and the rich foundation we're rooted in at Samford allows us to branch out and serve others--not just on one Saturday for a few hours, but to desire lifelong service," said Sanders, a sophomore pre-pharmacy major from Hattiesburg, Miss.
The Samford Gives Back student leadership team also includes external affairs director Victoria Domitrovich, internal affairs director Molly Brown, marketing director Laura Beth Allen and ODK delegate Stevie Carnell.
On Tuesday, April 15, all Samford Gives Back participants will be invited to reflect on their day of service during a Community Conversations program at 10 a.m. in the university center's Howard Room.