Over 460 students from Ohio Christian University and local high schools through a partnership with United Way of Pickaway County came together on Oct. 9 to serve the community. During OCU’s 21st annual Ralph C. Starkey Community Action Day, students engaged in clean up and restoration projects at 44 sites throughout Circleville and the surrounding county.
Before starting, the students were addressed by event organizers, Ralph C. Starkey’s daughter Beth Starkey Hill, Circleville Mayor Don McIlroy, and Pickaway County Commissioner Brian Stewart. Executive Director of United Way Jama Cobb thanked Ohio Christian for partnering with them and organizing the event and expressed joy at seeing the hundreds of students volunteering to serve the community. Commissioner Stewart encouraged the students and reflected how their actions were a reflection of Christian character.
“You’re going to tackle projects that have literally been a burden in people’s lives all across this community and you’re going to lift that burden up off their shoulders,” Stewart said. “And I think that here at Ohio Christian University, you would agree with me that that is quite literally doing the Lord’s work.”
A snapshot of the day’s impact could be seen in the cleanup of Williamsport Christian Cemetery, where the Trailblazers Men’s Soccer Team raked and weeded beds. Player, Kyle Luneke (’22) said “Raking leaves in the cemetery is just a nice thing to do. Clean it up a bit.” However, the cemetery’s caretaker, Harvey Looney, said it was more than nice; it was invaluable.
“There’s no paid help here,” Looney said, “it’s all volunteer, and I just can’t imagine myself raking this entire [cemetery]. So, without this help, I just don’t see how we could maintain it in the condition that we are now. We really need these volunteers.”
Elsewhere, students weeded and cleaned yards for older residents, conducted cleanups of local parks, and removed trash from roadsides. Ohio Christian’s Director of Spiritual Formation Kevin Bennie emphasized the impact of the student’s service and how it reflected Christ to the community.
“The students always serve with a smile and love to give back to the community that is their home away from home,” Bennie said. “All in all, we value service because Jesus challenges his followers to ‘be a servant of all’ (Mark 10:44) and we want to train students not only in their field of study but to follow Jesus with their whole lives.”
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