Oklahoma Baptist University's annual "Serve Shawnee" project saw about 465 new and returning students spread out over the Shawnee area to do clean-up and maintenance Monday and returned to the campus with a new perspective on their neighbors.
About 200 students worked in the Dunbar Heights community, nearly 100 spread out into the Milstead and Prince Hall areas. Nearly 150 did work in two elder-care facilities and 15 others worked in and around three Shawnee Housing Authority residences.
At each of these areas the students did maintenance work, cleaning, and personal visitation.
"For the Milstead area, the tower, and hi-rise we raised about $300 and collected enough goods to construct small gift bags to give each resident," said Rachael Clinton, one of the student project leaders. "The goal was to interact with the community and develop a positive relationship with our community outside of OBU that can be maintained."
The project not only benefited the Shawnee communities, but strengthened the university as well.
"I believe the students were affected in many positive ways," said Clinton. "It opened their eyes to the community in which they now live and the need for volunteer help. Many students voiced that the service project was very rewarding and life-changing. Hopefully they will continue to help serve others in the community. Being a VAC (volunteer action committee) member as well, it has helped us recruit a strong volunteer base."
The bonds between OBU and the Shawnee community were also strengthened.
"I believe the community was greatly affected, not because we did some amazing deed," Clinton said, "but simply because we took the time to care. It was truly an incredible day."