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GFU Serve Day continues to grow

Service — Students, staff and faculty help out more than 100 organizations during the university's annual event

George Fox University’s annual Serve Day — the school’s 15-year tradition of shutting down for a day so that students, staff and faculty can give their time and energy to community service — has broadened its reach the past few years.

That’s in part due to the school’s increasing enrollment, but also because the community has grown accustomed to and embraced the event, with more and more organizations asking to be involved.Photo Credit: GARY ALLEN - Sunny work - Biology/chemistry faculty member Beth Morton trims rose bushes at the Newberg Public Library.

On Sept. 3, the university split into groups to lend a hand at 101 organizations in Newberg, Yamhill County and the greater Portland area, but even that wasn’t enough to meet the demand, according to coordinator Trisha Elizarde.

“There were some places we didn’t get to serve at just due to the number of volunteers that were requested,” Elizarde said. “Unfortunately we didn’t get to serve with them on Serve Day, but we hope to connect with them during the year.”

Because it puts the school’s Christian mission into action, Serve Day is a quintessentially George Fox event.

“We want to serve others, want to love others and have the opportunity to give back as much as we can, especially to the Newberg area but also the Portland area as a whole,” Associated Student Community president Jake Vanier said. “It’s definitely something where we can set a day aside and say this is something that’s important to us and we’re going to do it. You can see the university rally around that in a big way.”

Vanier was part of a large group that descended upon downtown Newberg to pick up litter, weed, landscape, pass out flyers and lay fresh bark dust for the Newberg Downtown Coalition.

“It’s going to make a huge difference on the facelift of the city,” Downtown Coalition member Doug Hood said. “People driving by seeing freshly barked lots at every turn instead of old dirt.”

Sophomore Christina Van Slyke was part of a group that helped clean at Rose Haven, a women and children’s shelter in Portland.

“I really enjoy it because we’re split up into our own little groups by housing, so it’s kind of like a bonding day,” Van Slyke said. “Just to help out so many people, I really enjoy it. I’ve been doing serve days throughout my entire life, so it’s nice to continue it through college. And I get to meet different people.”

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