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The university is taking part in its annual 'Serve Day' on Wednesday at locations throughout the area

GRAPHIC FILE PHOTO - The venues where GFU students and staff work during Serve Day range from local senior homes to the main fire station in Newberg.

School is out, at least for the day, for George Fox University students on Wednesday (Sept. 11). The university staff and students are taking part in the annual Serve Day, which seeks to assist local nonprofits, churches, public agencies and other entities around the Willamette Valley.

According to a release from GFU, more than 2,000 students and staff are expected to participate in Serve Day. Projects at the 112 sites across four Oregon counties will include construction, painting, weeding, cleaning and visiting with seniors, the release stated.

"Stops this year will include visits to fire stations, the Friendsview Retirement Community in Newberg, Portland Rescue Mission and Neighborhood House, the Boys & Girls Club at Woodburn Teen Center, and the Department of Health and Human Services in GRAPHIC FILE PHOTO - GFU students and staff have participated in Serve Day at the university since 1999.McMinnville," the release said. "Other stops will include the Chehalem Health and Rehab Center, where music faculty and students will sing for and with residents while also assisting with gardening and wheelchair cleaning; the Hope Chinese Charter in Beaverton, where art faculty and students will paint a mural at a local church; and the Chehalem Aquatics and Fitness Center, where members of the university's swim team will help with deep cleaning projects."

One of the primary focuses of this year's Serve Day is to honor the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. The day will start around 9:15 a.m. with a prayer and a visit from a member of the Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue squad, followed by a kickoff celebration before volunteers head out to their assignments.

Volunteers, who will be spread around the region, are expected to return to campus by 4 p.m. for the church and activities fair, which runs until 5:30 p.m. Chapel time will be from 4:15 to 4:45. The theme scripture for this year is John 13:14-17.

According to GFU's release, the tradition of Serve Day began in 1999 and was the first day of service of its kind in the country – the only in which the entire university shuts down.

The university logs more than 30,000 student hours and 200,000 hours volunteered in the 20 Serve Days so far. Brad Lau, vice president for student life, provided the statistics and said in the release that more than 200 organizations have received GFU's help over the years.

"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," Lau said. "Our hope is that Serve Day will challenge those inside and outside George Fox to make a difference in their communities by serving others as a way of life."

More information on Serve Day is available at Serve Day coordinator Stephanie Lopez can be reached by phone at 503-554-2326.

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