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1,500 from Whitworth campus assist at 45 agencies

By Josiah Brown

The morning of September 20, 25 buses arrived at Whitworth University to take about 1,500 students, staff and faculty to 45 sites around Spokane for their annual Community Building Day.

Started in 1907 as Campus Day, it is Whitworth’s oldest tradition, evolving from a day of campus-wide service into a community-oriented service day.

Whitworth Community Day
Whitworth student on Community Day

The community offers projects, making it a bottom up, grass roots event. This year students, faculty and staff went to a variety of sites including, but not limited, to Anna Ogden Hall, Boys and Girls clubs, Catholic Charities sites, Christ Kitchen, Goodwill Industries, Project Hope, Salvation Army and Youth for Christ.

Beck Taylor, the university’s president, believes it’s an expression of Whitworth’s mission to equip students to honor God, follow Christ and serve humanity.

“It is a biblical mandate to serve the least of these,” he said. “We have many needs in our community, so we would be shirking our responsibility as a Christian university if we didn’t think of service seriously as part of our mission and then program service into the university’s activities.”

More than going out and serving in the community just one morning a year, it is about cultivating a spirit of service in the students.  As Steve LaPointe, the assistant director of service learning and community engagement, points out, “It is a first step for many, especially freshmen, who are serving in the community for the first time and are unfamiliar with Spokane and with service.”

For him, the day fits the biblical call in Matthew 20:28 to serve “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.”

Ryan Knight, a junior, who has fond memories of his first Community Building Day, was excited to be part of it again. This year he helped clean at Catholic Charities’ Delaney Apartments. As a cultural diversity advocate on campus he is glad students can step outside their own cultures, because the day cultivates empathy and moves students out from behind the “pine cone curtain” of campus.

For information, call 777-4673 or email slapointe@whitworth.edu.