Students ready to spread love at Serve the City
By Jeannette Cruz
GCU News Bureau
Once again, swarms of purple-shirted Grand Canyon University students, faculty and staff will fan out into the community Saturday to take part in Serve the City, a semiannual event in which volunteers will team up with Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona to improve residences and schools in the neighborhood.
The day will begin with check-in and breakfast at 7 a.m. on the Promenade in front of the Student Union. There, volunteers will receive their T-shirt and get information about each project site. One volunteer is chosen as a group leader, and the teams walk through the neighborhood to their sites.
From 8 a.m. to noon, GCU volunteers will work on seven homes, where they will help homeowners improve their property through painting, landscaping, roofing and trash cleanup. In a new initiative this year, GCU also will partner with Bourgade Catholic High School to revitalize the school’s landscaping by removing grass and replacing it with rocks and plants.
Senior Taylor Trueblood has been a member of the local outreach team for two years and took part in Serve the City last October. She described the morning as “an amazing scene to experience.”
“The slots for student volunteers fill up so quickly just to wake up at 6:30 on a Saturday morning to go out into the community to perform these acts of services,” she said. “It’s something that I truly love and an event that students definitely look forward to. And it’s also rewarding to know that families are trusting us with their homes.”
Since January 2015, GCU students and employees have helped rebuild and renovate residences in the neighborhood. Habitat for Humanity has built, renovated and repaired more than 800,000 homes in 100 countries since 1976 in partnership with families of low to moderate income.
“Some students have never interacted with our neighbors, so when they do I think it breaks barriers and helps them get to know people who are at a different place in life than them,” Spiritual Life Director Danielle Rinnier said. “For other students, it may be their first opportunity to serve at GCU, and so you see students who are excited to serve and make new connections. We see day in and day out what great, kind and loving students we have, but when people on the outside get to see that, that’s pretty cool.”
When it comes to getting hundreds of students to go out at once to engage in community projects, GCU is always ready, said Cassandra Jarles, assistant director of resource development and faith relations for Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona.
“Through this event volunteers are not only serving the community, but they’re also showing the true love of God to the community to make one large impact,” she said. “There is definitely a lot of purple and many smiles until the moment leading up to the transformation.”
Contact Jeannette Cruz at (602) 639-6631 or firstname.lastname@example.org.