Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Service to Others: 'One of Life's Best Habits'

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Service to Others: 'One of Life's Best Habits'

Article excerpt

Nineteen college students raise money for expenses, take rudimentary lessons in building construction, and drive to Kentucky in a rented van.

A week earlier, they had been mere campus acquaintances. In Chavies, Ky., they become a cohesive crew - digging a drainage ditch, shoring up a sagging house, and cleaning, sanitizing, and painting another.

Why spend spring break working with the Appalachia Service Project? What was in it for these students? Besides the deep gratification they experienced from being able to help families in need, they formed lasting friendships - and had a blast. This group of students is just one example of the national trend, a trend that will be reflected and publicized through the Presidents' Summit for America's Future, held in Philadelphia April 27-29. The four of us came together on this article because we share the same habit - service to others. As three students and one faculty member, we have led service projects at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania and in several communities. We caught the service bug early in our lives from one role model or another, and each of us knows that the desire to lend a hand is contagious. The Presidents' Summit has every chance of accomplishing that same goal on a huge scale, if we don't let our cynicism distract us. There's a new surge of altruistic energy in the land, fueled largely by students. Approximately 520 colleges and more than half a million of today's college students are involved in "service learning" - programs in which community service is integrated into academic courses and internships. This growth will continue with or without a summit, but the summit can help to raise its momentum to new heights. In the past five years, the number of Ursinus students involved in service and the hours they devote to it annually have doubled. More people are volunteering in the community, more traditional clubs are doing service, and clubs devoted entirely to service sprout up each semester. We have a new service fraternity, a new service house, and a merit scholarship program for service leaders. Our experiences have been as varied as they have been fulfilling. …

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