You’ve probably heard of the Community Service Council, and you might even know the CSC representative in your society. But until you actually sign the list for that weekend project coming up, you won’t know what you’re missing.
“If we can get [students] to go to a service project, they are going to catch the vision,” said Mr. Kasey McClure, lead coordinator of student organizations.
The CSC was created in 1981 through an initiative by Dr. Bob Jones III. Outreach ministries, geared toward the direct spread of the Gospel, existed at that time, but community service projects would give BJU students a chance to help meet the more diverse needs of the Greenville area and to show the love and light of Christ.
McClure said the CSC is all about students loving their neighbors. “The goal is to be a bridge-builder — to go out and get their hands dirty and their feet wet with those in the community,” he said.
Each semester, the CSC contacts individuals and organizations in the area to find any needs or opportunities to serve. The CSC helps with the Special Olympics at Furman University twice a year and provides more than 100 volunteers for the event.
The council also has a strong relationship with The Blood Connection. Hundreds of students “save three lives” each semester by donating blood.
The CSC works closely with the Greenville County Recreation District, providing volunteers for local races such as the Reedy River Run and for Enchanted Tracks, a children’s fairytale village held in October each year.
“One event that I love is the Generous Garden Project,” McClure said. “We do that once in the fall, once in the spring. [The gardeners] grow food for needy families, and they provide food for many local food banks. It’s a sustainable garden that grows food year round.” Sponsored not only by BJU but also by GE, Whole Foods Market in Greenville and other local corporations, the Generous Garden Project is located on Verdin Road.
Senior math education major Jaimie Wilson, CSC director and member of the Student Leadership Council, works to establish a relationship with the community, organizes the event calendar for each semester and ensures that enough volunteers are recruited from the student body to fill needs. Societies can find their own service projects, help with CSC projects or even adopt one of the CSC projects found on the BJU intranet.
“It is very fulfilling to go and help someone else without getting anything in return,” Wilson said.
Recently, a man donated a number of art books to the University. His son contacted the CSC for help moving the books to campus. Wilson said it was rewarding to help someone on a more personal level, since the majority of projects are events.
But, in the end, every project in which the CSC contributes is personal, providing a chance to meet many new people and see what is going on in the community. Handing out hot chocolate and cookies in downtown Greenville last December gave students a chance to talk, witness or tell people what BJU is all about.
“If [students] are able to juggle their studies and their work around getting involved in a CSC project, they’re a lot of fun,” McClure said. And students aren’t just limited to one project. According to the time you have, you can participate in several.
Painting children’s faces, landscaping, washing cars and handing out water to tired 5k runners are just some of the experiences in which students can take part. But perhaps the most rewarding aspect of community service projects is the chance to look beyond oneself and share the Gospel with others.