-By Lauren Canady ’17
What compels people to serve? This question lingered in my mind as I began the process of organizing and developing a year-long service project for my undergraduate capstone. Will the people I want to partner with come alongside me to serve in this project? The particular avenue of service I chose was in line with the Brazos Valley Food Bank’s mission: to strive to alleviate hunger in the Brazos Valley by distributing food and educational resources to our neighbors in need through a network of hunger relief partners (1).
Wherever you are, a persistent need of the community is food. This simple need can be addressed in a simple way: through food donations. I endeavored to bring together two familiar community agencies, the Brazos Valley Food Bank (BVFB) and Antioch Community Church, in an effort to address the need for food throughout our community. My project involved organizing several food drives and promoting community health by soliciting healthy food donations. As the project came together, I was excited to see what tangible results would come about – how would my project impact the community? Even more, I was interested to learn through interactions with the people involved, what is the heart of serving?
Since I’ve been at my church, there has never been a food drive conducted. With my project, I felt that I was pushing the bounds of what I knew was typically done in my church. I wasn’t sure how leaders and students in the college ministry would respond. I was also apprehensive about how helpful BVFB staff members would be, thinking that my project might be a nuisance to them. These ideas show how my mind wanted to think small, but my servant’s heart wanted to dream big. I pushed through doubts I had and communicated with BVFB and church leaders.
Since BVFB and my church uphold values of generosity, service, and love, it should’ve been no surprise to me that I was met with kind, helpful, and even joyful responses. People offered wisdom and helpful tips, and encouraged me in my efforts to pull off this service project. Ultimately, the project yielded successful food drives consisting of healthy food donations. In the spring, we conducted a large, one-night food drive in conjunction with the monthly college rally that the college ministry does. The donations amounted to 374 lbs of assorted groceries to distribute to the community! In the fall, we conducted multiple smaller food drives at college lifegroups throughout an entire week. This food drive yielded 611 lbs of food!
Certainly, the project impacted the community more than I ever imagined it would. What’s more, the students donating food were all motivated by love. Donations were always brought to me from the hands of joyful college students excited to serve the community through simple food donations.
The project results blew me away. I had never expected to be able to bless the community with such a large amount of healthy food. I also didn’t expect to be inspired to continue organizing simple service projects that yield meaningful results in the future. The people involved in this project showed me that a servant’s heart is a joyful one, compelled by love.