Approximately 500 Hope College students will participate in service projects throughout the area through the college's "Time to Serve" program on Saturday, Sept. 3.
The students, most of them members of the newly arrived freshman Class of 2009, will participate in the college's sixth annual "Time to Serve" volunteer program. The new students started signing up for the mass volunteer effort on Saturday, Aug. 27, only a day after arriving on campus for "New Student Orientation" at Hope.
The students' volunteerism reflects a national trend. In its 2004 survey of its 950 member colleges and universities, Campus Compact found that more than 30 percent of students participate in community service, averaging four hours of service a week. Campus Compact estimates the value of their service at $2,246.40 per individual during the school year.
Hope students volunteer on behalf of the community in a variety of ways throughout the year. In addition to "Time to Serve," the two most visible efforts on campus are the "Dance Marathon" charitable fund-raiser held on behalf of DeVos Children's Hospital of Grand Rapids and the spring break mission and service trip program, both of which involve hundreds of students annually.
The "Time to Serve" program has multiple goals, according to its coordinator, Diana Breclaw, who is assistant dean of students for residential life and student activities. It is designed to help new students learn about service while helping and getting to know their community and becoming better acquainted with each other.
The project began in the fall of 2000 with 10 projects and about 100 participants, and had grown to 24 projects and 300 students a year later. In October of 2001, "Time to Serve" 2000 received a 2001 Distinguished Service Award from Keep Michigan Beautiful Inc. during the group's Annual Conference.
This year, the students will be working in groups of five-30 at about 40 sites from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Projects will range from sorting and cleaning at Bibles for Mexico, to painting at the Critter Barn, to working with residents at Freedom Village, to groundskeeping at the Herrick District Library, to assisting at the Tulipanes Festival in Centennial Park; to groundskeeping and cleaning at many area churches.