Wayland students, employees brave cold to serve community

Release Date: October 10, 2009

PLAINVIEW – Saturday might not have been the ideal weather conditions for a community work day, but students and employees of Wayland Baptist University pressed on despite foggy, chilly temperatures to serve several city organizations in the fourth annual Degree of Difference Day held for the university.

Organized through the offices of Public Relations and Student Activities, the day included Saturday morning work projects in a variety of locations. Students worked alongside faculty and staff doing everything from painting and sheetrocking to roofing and cleaning.

“I was proud of our students and folks for showing up when the weather was a little chilly and just braving the conditions to get some much-needed projects done in our community,” said Teresa Young, director of communications and a co-organizer of the event. “They worked hard and had a good time and really made some headway for these organizations.”

Two large groups worked at Habitat for Humanity’s newest home on West 28th Street, where a crew roofed one home, and the Wee Care Child Care Center, where workers helped with sheetrocking, cleaning away construction debris and painting the new facility being overseen by David Wilder.

“This just shows you what a lot of people can do as opposed to just five or six,” said Wilder as students hauled sheetrock, insulated and painted all over the large facility. “They definitely got a lot done today.”

Cleaning and organizing was the order of the day at a warehouse and office owned by Producing Warriors for God, a new ministry in town; Compassionate Care Pregnancy Center, which ministers to many women going through crisis pregnancies; and Happy Union Baptist Church. A crew painted the former College Hill Daycare in service to longtime owners and operators J.D. and Frances Sams, who retired after more than 40 years of service to Plainview through the daycare. A new service organization, Sigma Phi Lambda, worked together to sort donations at the Crisis Center of the Plains’ Broadway Treasures store.

Two crews tackled yardwork and gardening at La Mesa Elementary and Plainview Christian Academy, and a sweep through the Plainview Cemetery for trash was done by another crew of workers. Trash pickup around Plainview High was done by WBU students and the Plainview High junior Navy ROTC participants. Ovens were doing overtime as well as one crew made cookies and bagged them for Meals on Wheels clients and patients of Area Community Hospice. The girls of Alpha Delta Kappa spent their afternoon bowling with and encouraging Plainview’s Special Olympians in their winter sport.

Wayland’s Pioneer Marching Band resumed their traditional post on the workday as hosts and organizers of the Plainview Pioneer Marching Festival held at Greg Sherwood Memorial Bulldog Stadium for area schools. The annual festival provides one final “practice” for schools before UIL marching competition and judges are able to provide good feedback for band directors and groups attending the event.

A new dimension to the 2009 event was the addition of a Friday night meal organized by the Baptist Student Ministries, focusing on the plight of world hunger and the disparity of food sources worldwide. Students ate meals depending on which “class” they fell into, drawn at random, based on percentages of the world’s population at various income levels. Out of the group of around 50, only 5 were treated to a four-course meal, others received rice and beans, and the majority ate only rice, representing the large number of the world’s population who live in abject poverty.

Following the meal, students helped distribute flyers to neighborhoods surrounding three block parties which were held Saturday afternoon. The students were encouraged to prayer-walk the neighborhoods during their time, and they gathered back at WBU for a worship time.

The Saturday block parties included partnerships with several local churches to provide a safe, fun time of family entertainment and share the love of God with families around Plainview.

“All told, we had about 250 people or so doing service projects and helping with the additional events organized by our BSM. It was so great to see everyone working hard, lending a hand and being glad to do whatever task we asked, even if it involved getting a little dirty,” Young added. “I don’t think our students really realize the impact they made and the assistance they provided to many of these groups in just a few hours of labor.”

But some were impacted pretty heavily themselves.

“The whole time I was cleaning all I could think about was how even though we didn’t get to work with the girls directly, everything we were doing would impact them, even if they don’t really notice,” said Melissa Wilkinson, who was part of the crew at Compassionate Care.

Drew Marquez, who worked with the Wee Care crew, said he appreciated the chance to help the children of Plainview behind the scenes by helping with the facility.

“It gave me a chance to be near to God,” said Amanda Allen, who worked at Producing Warriors for God with organizer Gloria Turner. “It was a worship experience for me, and it is amazing that I could experience the glory of God by sweeping.”