Bob Jones University is on track to finish 75 community service projects for Greenville, the city that has hosted it for 75 years.
During opening ceremonies last fall, BJU President Steve Pettit committed to completing 75 service projects for Greenville during the 2021-2022 academic year. He encouraged BJU students to appreciate the privilege of living inside Greenville. BJU is the only university inside Greenville city limits.
Pettit encouraged students to break out of their bubble and build strong relationships with the community. “It’s very easy, particularly for very strong Christian people, to be disconnected [from] the community they live in,” Pettit said. “True, effective evangelism is always built on relationships.”
Jordan Baun, the coordinator of outreach and evangelism for BJU’s Center for Global Opportunities, helps coordinate all campus-wide outreach projects. Some of the larger outreaches are organized by the CGO, while others are planned by student societies, Bob Jones Academy or BJU Press.
Projects range from volunteering at community charitable events to visiting senior residence centers, putting on free community concerts and doing yard work for local residents.Some groups have planned outreach activities downtown or organized drives to help those in need.
A snowstorm in January cancelled many of the projects scheduled for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. However, BJU should easily surpass its 75-project goal despite the setback, according to David Lovegrove, chief marketing officer for BJU, who helps select and coordinate the projects. “There were about 75 different service activities just first semester!” Lovegrove said.
Lovegrove and other coordinators are working to reschedule some of the cancelled projects.
Other outreaches have been more spontaneous. In one instance, Senior Action, anorganization dedicated to meeting the needs of Greenville’s senior citizens, needed help with an activity and reached out to Baun. With only one day’s notice, members from the Phi Beta Chi Bulldogs society volunteered to help at the event. Baun said the center was impressed with the students’ help and asked for their contact information for future reference.
Last October, 24 students volunteered with Refuge International Disaster Relief to help victims of Hurricane Ida. The students’ hard work left a strong impression on the residents. “To see college students that just want to give back and really help out and not run around like crazy college students … was a real blessing to [the hurricane victims],” Baun said.
BJU plans to keep providing opportunities for students to serve well beyond the completion of the 75 major projects. The next major service opportunity is the Green Valley Road Race on Feb. 19. Students who want to volunteer for the race can talk to their society’sCommunity Service Council representative.
Baun said he looks forward to planning new events throughout the spring. “Every semester brings a new crew of CSC reps, which means there’s new ideas,” Baun said. “I’m excited to see what students are going to be doing this semester to get out and serve.”