Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2010-04-13

Hundreds of Samford University students have given back to the Birmingham community during a series of spring service days.

About 360 students and employees took willing hearts and hands to a variety of work sites on a pretty Saturday morning, April 10, during an  Omicron Delta Kappa Day of Service. Projects ranged from painting Habitat for Humanity houses to comforting patients at a Hispanic medical clinic.

“It was exciting to see the energy with which everyone approached these service opportunities,” said project coordinator and ODK member Stephen Bailey.

Gathering volunteers was easy, he said, once students knew of the needs. Some, he said, “jumped at the idea of serving Birmingham, not as an individual or a small group, but as a larger Samford community.

While organizing the April project was the first such undertaking for the Samford chapter of the national leadership honor society, the day was part of a long-standing tradition of springtime service efforts at Samford. For years, Samford students have given back to the community through a variety of clean-up and service campaigns.

Samford’s Alpha Delta Pi sorority members used the ODK-sponsored opportunity to work at Ronald McDonald House, where they are regular volunteers.

“Their assistance in doing numerous housekeeping and clean-up duties was essential to helping our families have a home-away-from home while their child receives medical treatment in Birmingham,” said Mike Singer, executive director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama.

Members of the Samford Spanish Club, along with several professors, used their language skills to translate at an area Hispanic medical clinic. There, they helped dental patients complete paperwork and be comfortable while awaiting their appointments, and translated for the medical staff.

“What we’ve learned from this year is that Samford students, staff and alumni are service-driven. Given the chance, they will make the most of any opportunity they have to better their community,” said Bailey, a chemistry major from Brownsburg, Ind.

“This was truly a student-driven initiative to give back to our local community,” said Samford ODK advisor and business professor Dr. Betsy Holloway. “We were proud to participate in the national ODK Day of service, along with hundreds of other universities and thousands of ODK students across the country.”

After a morning of hard work, volunteers enjoyed a picnic lunch together at the campus baseball field, where the Samford team was in afternoon action.

Earlier in the week, Samford baseball players had undertaken their own community service project. The college athletes visited local elementary schools, where they read to students and participated in physical education classes.

In late March, more than 250 Samford students participated in a “Samford Gives Back” day sponsored by the school’s Community Service Council, Student Government Association and University Ministries.

The greatest outcome of that event, said Office of Student Involvement assistant director Sherrelle Hudson, lies in the future.

“Many students said that because of their experience, they plan to go back to the organizations and volunteer,” said Hudson.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.