Graphic by Fallon Goldberg
Aside from their hectic schedules filled with classes and work, many University students allocate time to participate in community service opportunities in hopes of giving back to the local area. At the University, students have the option to complete community service through the Office of Civic Engagement. This office aids students in exploring service opportunities outside of the University. Through these service acts, they hope students will learn more about the world around them and the issues affecting local and global communities.
Prominent Service Opportunities
The Giving Tree
Around the holiday season, a Christmas tree will appear in the entrance lobby of Bertrand Library. The tree is called the Giving Tree, and it is a program that allows students and faculty to offer something to the community during the giving season. Decorated with snowflake tags, which look like ornaments, the tree and its tags feature the names, ages and gift wishes of community members. Students and faculty who select a tag from the Giving Tree have until Nov. 28 to fulfill the gift request.
“This program provides holiday gifts for local community members in need,” Assistant Director for Community Services Lynn Pierson said. “Each year we have gift requests from local agencies such as Buffalo Valley Lutheran Village, Children’s Choice, CMSU, CONCERN, Danville State Hospital, Essex Place, Haven Ministries, Meadowview, Milton Developmental Service, Milton YMCA, Riverwoods, Mostly Mutts, FARM, Haven to Home, Sunbury YMCA, and Union County Children and Youth Services.”
“This is an annual holiday program and the Bucknell and Lewisburg community has been so generous with taking tags and purchasing the gifts,” Pierson said.
Lewisburg Community Garden
Started as a joint program between the University and the Borough of Lewisburg, the Lewisburg Community Garden has thrived as a source of nutrition for those with food security issues. The garden is located at the intersection of North Water Street and St. Anthony Street, and its aim is to increase access to healthy low-cost food, educate students and the community about gardening benefits, spread awareness about food insecurity and provide a cooperative opportunity for the community and the campus. In 2017, the Lewisburg Community Garden produced approximately 3,800 pounds of produce, which was donated to hot meal programs and food banks.
Bucknell University Farm
Another outdoor space for students to cultivate their interests is the University’s Farm, located on a plot of about 4.5 acres of land near South Campus. Established in the spring of 2018, the Farm has become a student-powered space where individuals can explore and engage in research, promote regenerative agriculture, support sustainable practices and enhance the wellness of the campus and the greater community. In addition to offering its organic products to the B-Eats campus food pantry, the farm delivers its produce to the University’s dining locations. The University’s farm was created after the Lewisburg Community Garden and aims to follow the garden’s success.
As a weekly hot meal program, Community Harvest offers food and companionship to the Milton community. Those who aid in the Community Harvest prepare and serve healthy meals to about 200 individuals — much of the produce being grown at the Lewisburg Community Garden. Regardless of age, everyone is encouraged to volunteer or donate to help cover the costs of food.
Hot meals are served every Monday at St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church (102 Lower Market St., Milton) from 5 to 6 p.m.
Upcoming Spring Events
In collaboration with the 7th Street Studio and MakerSpace, the Empty Bowls program begins with University students and community members creating hand-made ceramic bowls. These ceramic pieces are later used to serve a simple meal of soup and bread in Walls Lounge and the Center Room in exchange for a donation of $10. At the end of the program, guests are able to take home one “empty bowl.” All proceeds of this cause support the Community Harvest hot meal program in Milton.
This year, the event will take place on March 5, with mealtimes beginning at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets can be purchased through the Box Office or at the event.
Polar Bear Plunge
Taking place on Feb. 8, 2020, the Polar Bear Plunge is a favorite of students and faculty alike. During the plunge, participants will take a dip in the Susquehanna River to raise money for the Lewisburg Downtown Partnership. Registration prior to the event cost $15, or $20 if registering the day of the event.
“We do a variety of different efforts to advertise the local community volunteer opportunities in general–Facebook, community service fairs, weekly emails, etc,” Pierson said. “There are so many different stories of our interactions with the local community through service.”
In addition to the community service events and programs listed above, the Office of Civic Engagement sponsors other service-related programs, including the Community Service Federal Work-Study program, Community-Engaged Learning events, Student Immersion Experiences and the Civic Action Plans.
Value of Service
Natalie Slupe ’21 is the current Vice President of Foundation for her sorority, heading their philanthropy efforts.
“Through my sorority, I have completed many hours of community service at Riverwoods,” Slupe said about her service experience. “We have played bingo with residents and hand-delivered holiday cards. Anytime we have the chance to go to Riverwoods, we always leave in good spirits. The best part about doing this type of community service is seeing how we can uplift the spirits of residents. Experiences like this are why service continues to be so important to me, as it is clear that we can make the residents’ days by doing something as simple and heartfelt as delivering them a holiday card.”
Students interested in getting involved with the local Lewisburg community can find more information online at the University’s website.