ROTC cadets give the gift of service this winter
By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau
For Grand Canyon University‘s Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, Christmas has been more about giving than receiving. Earlier this month, cadets ventured to St. Vincent de Paul to serve breakfast to the homeless and to a community center to help children and adults make Christmas cards to send to troops overseas.
“ROTC has made one of its big goals to help serve in outreach in the community, and this year, I think, is one of our biggest years,” said Cadet Sam Innanen, Task Force Commander, who has overseen many of the group’s community events and served breakfast to the homeless alongside her fellow cadets. “We’ve really dedicated a lot of time and worked with bigger groups than we had in the past.”
Thanks to an already established relationship between GCU and St. Vincent de Paul, GCU Army ROTC cadets had a connection to a member of the community and asked how they could help. Innanen and her cadets heard about the homeless ministry and were all in.
“Our cadets are so amped about serving,” Innanen said. “I think if I provided them 100 opportunities, they would have gone 100 times to anything. … We ask when we’re coordinating for an event, ‘How many people can we bring?’ They usually tell us a limit, not a minimum, because we’ll bring as many as we can.”
Innanen was among 40 cadets who served scrambled eggs, bread, peaches and coffee one Tuesday morning to the homeless. Service is no stranger to Innanen, but being able to watch her cadets serve the St. Vincent de Paul community was something special for her.
“Me, as the leader of all these cadets, I really got to see the service side of my cadets and I was really proud of them, their humility and everything,” she said. “It was just a really humbling, great experience to serve the homeless out there.”
On the same day, four cadets, some of whom participated in the event at St. Vincent de Paul earlier that day, switched gears to bring Christmas cheer to military personnel overseas who will be unable to spend the holidays at home with their families by helping make Christmas cards for the troops. Cadet Gaige Graham served at both service events and described the experience as “extra special.”
“As it gets colder in Arizona, people are stuck on the street and don’t have a merry Christmas, and you have people who are sacrificing their lives overseas. There’s just a lot of people who need a lot of help around Christmastime and Thanksgiving,” Graham said.
A few hundred people attended the event, ensuring that at least a few hundred cards were produced for the cause.
“It was pretty inspiring to see,” Graham said. “It makes you feel better, for sure, knowing that you’re doing something right.”
GCU’s Army ROTC plans to continue their volunteer efforts well into the new year and spring.
Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected]
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