By Seneca Ransom
Students have several opportunities to engage with the campus community through groups like Student Senate or through GEN 100 sections. This year, groups like these are pushing towards community service opportunities off-campus, allowing students to make an impact in the Canton community.
Bekah Stranger, a sophomore integrated social studies and integrated language arts double major, is a senate member and volunteer at the North Canton Church of Christ foodbank. Stranger is using her connections to facilitate the foodbank partnering with Student Senate in order to provide service opportunities for students and hands-on help for the church.
“Senate members are encouraged to participate if they are available, and if other people on campus are interested they can email me and I’ll help them get signed up,” Stranger said, confirming that the general student population is welcome to partake as well.
Tony Schnyders, dean of student development, is at the wheel of the Student Leadership Program on campus. This program promotes student development through service to the community.
“For the Service Leadership Program, one of the things I was tasked with doing was to create opportunities for that group… but there was no reason the rest of the [campus] community couldn’t be invited to serve with us,” Schnyders said.
As the program has grown, the mission has branched into working with groups such as Student Senate in order to reach the entire campus community. In order to do that, Schnyders established Malone Serves Saturdays.
“Last semester was the first semester we kicked off the Malone Serves Saturdays,” Schnyders said. “Essentially, we tried to find a commitment [to serving] every other week. COVID-19 messed us up because places that I had lined up didn’t want us… We were doing everything on campus through maintenance on our grounds and things like that.”
Despite the challenges COVID-19 has presented, Schnyders has worked with students such as Stranger as well as local organizations to present new ways for students to stay connected and to serve.
“On the second and fourth Saturday morning of each month [this semester], we will have another group project,” Schnyders said. “One will be helping out at North Canton Church of Christ doing a food giveaway. I also contacted some parks where we signed up to pick up trash.”
Schnyder hopes that these opportunities will interest students and allow for more off-campus involvement in the community. Malone’s themes of service and community will be demonstrated by students who take the time to volunteer and create connections.
“If students want to serve and they don’t know how to plugin, I’m happy to sit down and talk through some different opportunities,” Schnyder said.
Abigail LaRoy, a sophomore social work major, was able to participate in many service activities her freshman year at Malone through the Service Leadership Group.
“On campus, [the Service Leadership Group] did some landscaping at the Johnson Center.,” LaRoy said. “And then for off campus, we were at the Kingdom Hall and Shelter of Hope and we made connections and served at Habitat for Humanity. We used our time and resources to do some cool stuff for the community.”
This year she helped facilitate the Service Leadership Group as a course assistant by promoting service and making connections in the community. Her GEN 100 section focused on educating students about ways they could focus on their individual strengths to better use their time and resources to promote the local community.
“My section was comprised of students that were recipients of the Servant Leadership Scholarship,” LaRoy said. “We went through the regular GEN 100 curriculum, but we tried to incorporate service leadership material.”
As more campus groups focus on community service, opportunities are made more available for the student body to participate. Caring for the Canton community and giving back to those at and around Malone has been a flourishing adventure, even through COVID-19 constraints.