Published on January 19, 2024 by Kameron Brown  
Piper Paige and Payton Stafford DSC03635

Each year, Samford University's Office of Parent and Family Programs seeks to further one of Samford's core values, which is to lead in service to God, to family, to one another, and to the community, by organizing opportunities for Samford families to get involved in the community in impactful and positive ways.

One of these opportunities is the Samford Parents Association's annual donation drive during Step Sing Weekend. Each year, the Parents Association works together to provide donations to ministries and non-profits. This year, Samford parents are encouraging all to come together in support of the Samford-wide mission trip to Ecuador this Spring Break.

"My family and I are thrilled to be traveling with Samford to Ecuador this March to help make a difference in the lives of others," said Sharla Stafford, co-chair of the Samford Parents Association. "This year's Step Sing donation drive is an opportunity for the Samford family to come together in support of our international focus on service."

The Parents Association will be collecting new backpacks and tennis shoes from Jan. 25 to Jan. 27 during Step Sing Weekend. Donations will then be transported to Ecuador with the Samford mission team and distributed to the International Ministry of Jesus SEED Soccer program, a ministry developed in 2017 to glorify God and reach children and teens with the Gospel of Christ through soccer in remote and hard-to-reach communities.

Stafford will be joined in Ecuador by her three daughters, Piper, Paige and Payton. The Stafford family represents just one of Samford's many parents, students, faculty and alumni who will be traveling to make a difference this Spring Break in South America.

"I really wanted to do something meaningful with my Spring Break this year," said Piper Stafford. "The opportunity to be a part of something like this, not just with my immediate family but also my Samford family, seemed too significant to miss out on."

For those interested in being a part of the Samford-wide mission trip, in partnership with Reel Life International and International Ministry of Jesus, applications to travel have closed, but there are still ways to support. Those interested may visit the team's Amazon wish list; donation items purchased here will be sent directly to Samford University. Other donations of tennis shoes and backpacks may be dropped off in the University Center, Room 203-C, Thursday, Jan. 25 - Saturday, Jan. 27.

"We know several people want to participate in this opportunity but can't commit to international travel. That is why we are encouraging the entire Samford community to donate new tennis shoes and backpacks during this year's Step Sing donation drive."

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. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 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.