OCU enables youthful service to community
United Methodist church youth groups from across the state long have gathered at Oklahoma City University on the first Saturday in March. This year, what has become known as Youth Service Day fell on March 5.
Youths and sponsors enjoy learning about OCU, a meal in the cafeteria, and an afternoon in hands-on service for public schools, churches, and nonprofit programs. The day concludes with worship in the Watson Lounge of the Chapel.
For the 2016 event, OCU graduate Allison Jean returned to preach on following Christ’s example of serving others. She now is enrolled at Perkins School of Theology
As an intern for the Wesley Center — the United Methodist campus ministry at OCU — senior Michael Horn led planning. "Youth Service Day gives the Wesley Center a chance to really make a difference in the community around us," he said.
Service sites included Project Transformation, The Well outreach ministry, and an elementary school.
The day is among countless ways that OCU students, staff, and faculty reach beyond campus throughout the year, embracing the university’s servant leadership model. They sponsor a Relay for Life fundraising race for cancer research, volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, and host a grilled-cheese benefit dinner for USO.
Here are a few more examples.
• The Wesley Center sponsored two Christmas projects. The Alternative Gift Marketplace raised $600 for UMCOR. Wesley students also raised over $1,300 to purchase Christmas gifts for 12 foster children through Circle of Care.
• The student group Ris4Thursday organized a meal initiative for the Homeless Alliance of OKC. With the support of Sodexo, the university’s food vendor, students donated 150 unused meals from their dining plans, as well as 170 pairs of socks and 10 hats. Fourteen students served the donated meals.
• Student-athletes collected 20,181 items during their annual canned food drive for Skyline Urban Ministry, to help feed the hungry in Oklahoma City. That totaled 8,185 more items than last year’s record amount. Coaches and student-athletes also volunteer about 3,000 combined service hours each year.
• A group of more than 100 students — Clara Luper Scholars, American Indian Scholars, and OCU Leads Scholars — collaborated on service projects for numerous nonprofits. Toys were collected and donated to families identified through Catholic Charities and to the YWCA. Some students volunteered with Boys and Girls Club of Oklahoma City. A bake sale raised $170 to buy school supplies for Positive Tomorrows, a school for homeless children.
Young volunteers from Okmulgee UMC dig in to help at Edgemere Elementary School, Oklahoma City, in March. Led by Hannah Lampi, an OCU senior and Wesley Center intern, they weeded the school’s vegetable gardens and repaired the watering system.