Samford University gave back to the Birmingham community in a meaningful way Saturday, April 2, as more than 600 volunteers fanned out around town to paint, clean, landscape and help in a myriad of ways.
Samford’s motto, “The world is better for it,” was really fleshed out as so many volunteers—mostly students--decided not to sleep in and instead decided to love their neighbors, said Caroline Noland, who organized a group of residence hall assistants (RAs) for the Samford Gives Back effort. The RAs spent the morning at MedMission, where they organized medical supplies that will be given to clinics around the world.
“It’s amazing what a few hours on a Saturday can mean to doctors and nurses serving developing countries,” said Noland, noting that the experience hit close to home for a team member who is studying to be a doctor.
“We made use of his knowledge of medical supplies. It was a great chance for him to see the effect and impact his abilities and talents will have on those in need,” said Noland, a senior business major from Boiling Springs, S.C.
Team leader Stephen Bailey found his work at KIDS Music Center just as rewarding. The morning was spent bagging canned goods, re-organizing the kitchen and warehouse, sorting donated clothing, and cleaning at the community center, which offers music lessons to children, among other services.
“The workers there were thrilled to have our 30 willing hands to help them tackle some of the more intimidating tasks they had before them. Even though we didn’t ‘finish’ anything, we felt we had made a dent in the work,” said Bailey, a senior chemistry major from Brownsburg, Ind.
“Not only did we get to serve at a philanthropy most of us were entirely unfamiliar with, but our volunteer hours felt more significant since we knew similar work was being done all across the city,” said Bailey, president of the Samford chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honor society, which cosponsored Samford Gives Back with the university’s Community Service Council.
The Samford volunteers were assigned to about 33 non-profit agencies, to which they headed after an early morning informal breakfast and on-campus rally led by with Gil Franks of Birmingham’s Christian Service Mission. “It set the perfect tone for the morning of service,” Bailey said of the gathering in Seibert Hall.
According to Samford Student Affairs community service coordinator Stephanie Campbell, the turnout of 600 exceeded her wildest expectations.
“In dreaming big for the event, we aimed for around 400 participants. We could not be more proud of the Samford community for desiring to fulfill the needs of the Birmingham community,” said Campbell.
“This shows us that, when given opportunities and outlets to serve, Samford will rise above the status quo and sacrifice time in order to better the community around us.”
Volunteer work teams represented sororities, fraternities, groups of friends, and academic units such as the 36 students, faculty, alumni, and family members--including a few kids--from Samfords’ Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing.
Their assignment at M-Power ministry, which includes a free medical and dental clinic, was a perfect fit, observes nursing instructor Lora Shelton, who organized the work group.
“Their mission is one of importance to those of us involved in healthcare, and this was a great opportunity to come together and help them with some needed projects,” she said.
The M-Power staff showed their appreciation by posting photos of the hard-working Samford volunteers on their Facebook page.