University — University's 16th annual Serve Day set for Sept. 3 at sites around the region

On Sept. 3, George Fox University will close its doors for the day as its students and faculty depart campus to participate in the school’s annual Serve Day.

Begun in 1999 as a means of giving back to the community, the day has become an integral part of fulfilling the school’s mission. Photo Credit: GARY ALLEN - Lending a hand - GFU students,  faculty and staff will fan out from Newberg to perform  service  projects Sept. 3.

“This special day has become a deeply rooted tradition in the life of the George Fox University community as we seek to show the love of Christ by serving Newberg, Portland and the surrounding area,” said Brad Lau, vice president for student life.

According to Campus Compact, a community service promoter at higher education schools, George Fox was the first school to shut down entirely for a day in order to perform community service.

Lau added that for quite some time, George Fox has been contacted by other schools and institutions hoping to start similar initiatives.

“We’re not familiar with any institution doing anything like this as long as we have and the way we have,” Lau said. “Even before Serve Day, there was an orientation or Welcome Week event just for first-year students and schools have had those for a while. But in terms of a whole day during an academic week, where the whole community goes and serves together, we’re pretty unique in that regard.”

This year’s theme is “Who is my Neighbor?” which is based off of a biblical passage in Luke 10, the story of the Good Samaritan. It was chosen since it challenges the event’s participants to think about how their service is mutually beneficial to them and the people they serve.

“One of the benefits is that students get to serve alongside faculty members and administrators,” Lau said. “It’s a pretty powerful community experience for us as well.”

The day will start with a 7:30 a.m. breakfast and short program on the campus quad before participants depart to sites at 9 a.m.

Among the organizations benefiting from Servce Day are Love INC, Eloheh Farms, Friendsview Retirement Community, Chehalem Park and Recreation District, Native American Youth and Family Center, Rose Haven, Chehalem Cultural Center, Oregon Garden, Word Made Flesh, and HIV Day Center. In all the school will perform projects at record 102 sites in Yamhill, Washington, Marion, Multnomah, and Clackamas counties.

The day will conclude at George Fox at 4 p.m. with an activities fair and picnic dinner.

“Every year this is one of the highlights to the beginning of our semester,” Lau said. “We’re very much looking forward to the opportunity to server our community and to be the hands and feet of Christ and, hopefully, make a difference.”

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