On Saturday, April 8, William Jewell College had its annual Jewell Day of Service on which students devote their Saturday morning to serving the community.
Jeff Buscher, College Chaplain, explained that while the fall Serve and Celebrate day was around before he started at Jewell, the spring Jewell Day of Service began around 2010.
“About seven or eight years ago one call came out for folks to do service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day,” said Buscher. “That’s a popular day for folks to help out and serve.”
However, because of the timing of Jewell’s winter break, students may or may not be on campus for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“We still wanted to have a spring Day of Service that was similar to Serve and Celebrate,” said Buscher. “So, in about 2010 we started doing a spring Jewell Day of Service and it’s kind of random how we select the date.”
Although spring Jewell Day of Service and fall Serve and Celebrate both focus on serving the community around Jewell, Buscher comments that he likes to switch up the volunteer groups during the two separate days of service.
“In the fall I purposely mix up student groups. If all the ADPi’s [Alpha Delta Pi] and all the KA’s [Kappa Alpha] sign up I take a few from each group and mix them up into teams,” said Buscher. “Just to promote working with other people outside of your group. So we do that in Serve and Celebrate, but in the spring Jewell Day of Service when people sign up I try to assign them to their group. That’s nice too because people like working with their friends. So that’s how I balance those two out.”
Buscher has local agencies he contacts each year to let them know the date and asks them if Jewell students could volunteer at their organizations. This year, Jewell students volunteered at 15 organizations, including Jewish Vocational Services, Hope House, Rebuilding Together Kansas City and Earnest Shepherd Youth Center.
“We really try to partner with places that really serve the community and we know that because they’re busy serving the community, sometimes they let things go like ‘I know that needs a coat of paint but we don’t have time’ or ‘We really need to clean up that shed, but we don’t have time.’ So that’s one of the things I tell these agencies when I contact them is we will do whatever work you need to be done,” said Buscher. “We know that you’re busy serving the community and we just want to partner with you, come alongside you and help you do your job better. So that’s what I do, and I tell them our students will do whatever you ask them to do. And they [Jewell student volunteers] do, and they’re fantastic. They usually do it faster than people expect.”
Even though the Saturday morning for this year’s day of service was bitterly cold, Jewell students woke up early to serve their community.
“I have to say that I was so pleasantly surprised,” said Buscher. “I just thought ‘It’s a cold morning and nobody is going to want to do this.’ However, we had 140 students show up, even though at 8:15 a.m. when we sent them out, I think it was 26 degrees.”
Buscher also notes that the Jewell Day of Service is an educational experience where students can learn more about the organizations in our community.
“When students go to these agencies and volunteer, I always make sure to tell the agencies to please take the first 10 or 15 minutes to explain what they do, what their services are and how they help the community,” said Buscher. “That’s why I consider it educational in that students are exposed to these nonprofits that are really helping the community.”
Hannah Jacobs, a first-year biology major and assistant to the chaplain, volunteered on Jewell Day of Service and went to Hillcrest Hope Avondale apartments to help clean and organize the community living space.
“The purpose of their organization is to help homeless families get back on their feet,” said Jacobs. “We actually worked with some of the residents who are living there because they have to come help and volunteer now and then. So Hillcrest just helps families with their issues, enforces positive problem solving, positive lifestyles and just helps residents find jobs and improve their family lives.”
For Buscher, seeing students show up for Jewell Day of Service is a huge encouragement. Hearing the positive responses from the organizations makes the whole event worth it.
“My second favorite part is that on Monday morning when the agencies contact me and thank me for the work that was done,” said Buscher. “Reading those thank you notes is always very nice because I just hear ‘got more done than we expected!’ or ‘they were so cheerful!’ so reading those thank you notes is always a big boost.”
Photos courtesy of Jeff Buscher.