Helping Hands

Members of the Randolph College Women's basketball team volunteer at Lynchburg Daily Bread.

Members of the Randolph College Women’s basketball team volunteer at Lynchburg Daily Bread.

The first time Jensen Hoover ’15 went to Lynchburg Daily Bread, she was shocked at the reality of poverty and hardship found there. After hours of food preparation, she and other members of the Randolph College women’s basketball team helped serve more than 200 people a hot meal.

Brie Holdren '17, Jacqueline Hockman '17, and Darian Thornton '17 stock shelves at Daily Bread.

Brie Holdren ’17, Jacqueline Hockman ’17, and Darian Thornton ’17 stock shelves at Daily Bread.

The experience compelled Hoover to return again. She and several classmates recently collected food and clothing to distribute at Daily Bread as part of a sociology class project.

“We’re luckier than most individuals,” Hoover said. “We’re in a position to give back.”

Service is an integral part of the Randolph College experience. It gives students a way to apply what they learn in the classroom to meet real-world needs, said Danielle Currier, a sociology professor who incorporates service into her curriculum. “We want to encourage students to actually change the world as they see fit,” she said. “It empowers them to realize that they can actually do something.”

Randolph’s athletic programs also focus energy on community service. Several coaches organize service projects with their teams multiple times per year. “Deep down, it helps them appreciate what they have a little more,” said Allison Nichols, head women’s basketball coach.

The Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) has reached out to the community by sponsoring activities for the local Special Olympics, tutoring local students, collecting canned foods, helping with Habitat for Humanity builds, and holding sports clinics for younger athletes.

helping_hands_2These activities help students remember that there is more to life than the next exam or yesterday’s game, said Alexis Wagner, head women’s lacrosse coach and SAAC advisor. “All those other cares fade away, and you get to focus on the bigger picture for a couple of hours,” she said.

This semester, a task force of faculty, staff, and students are discussing ways to create more service opportunities for students. Although there already are outlets for volunteering, students and the broader community will benefit from the expanded focus, said Jake Hood ’14, SAAC president.

“There are many efforts all over campus based on community service, but it’s something that you can’t do enough,” he said.