Homecoming on a college campus is usually an occasion for students and alumni to gather together to celebrate what is great about their school, and usually includes football games and school spirit competitions. But for this year’s homecoming at Indiana’s Valparaiso University, the campus community did things a little differently.
“One thing that is really unique about Valpo’s homecoming,” said Valparaiso student Jacob Landgraf, “is that it’s about so much more than school spirit. It really is about celebrating our Valpo experience, which is bound up with service to others.”
This year students rallied in service to people around the world by assembling LWR Personal Care Kits during homecoming. Student groups from across campus were invited to join in the kit assembly as part of their spirit competitions. “We really made it our goal to make the service project the centerpiece of homecoming,” said Elisa Espinosa. More than 20 student groups took part in the assembly event, with supplies provided by the school, and individual students could even assemble more kits on their own for extra points. By the end of homecoming week, students had assembled 701 Personal Care Kits.
For Valparaiso student Zachary Gronewold the kit assembly experience was an opportunity for cooperation with a cause across the campus. “We had music playing and everyone was so enthusiastic and ready to work,” Zachary said. “The beginning was slow as teams learned how to pack the supplies properly, but as soon as they found their groove it was like clockwork. People were rushing back and forth to keep up with the demand in supplies.”
And the fruits of their labor were visible. “We started with a tower of empty boxes,” said Zachary, “but within the hour we had multiple boxes filled. Everyone felt a great sense of achievement as they placed their packing slip in the box.”
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LWR’s Quilt & Kit Tracker will help connect the students of Valparaiso with the neighbors their homecoming work will benefit. Elisa Espinosa said, “I thought the Tracker was the coolest thing! This is a great way to see how your donation is actually making a difference. It’s fascinating that we did all the preparation and packaging in Valparaiso, Ind., and we are impacting others around the world!”
For the last step in their service, students partnered with Christ Lutheran Church in Valparaiso to drop off their Personal Care Kits for the congregation’s upcoming Ingathering.
“When we arrived there,” said student Allyson Hofstede, “three lovely women greeted us at the door and helped us carry the boxes inside to store with the other care kits. It was amazing to see the dozens of boxes containing the care kits along the wall in the church. Knowing that all of these care kits are going to make a difference in someone’s life is truly inspiring!”
For these students, such inspiration to do good on behalf of their neighbors near and far is a defining characteristic of their time at Valparaiso. “I’m proud to say,” said Elisa Espinosa, “that our student body acknowledges that it’s their responsibility to help others and they are more than willing to do so. Even with busy schedules and high bills to pay, our students make time for and donate to the causes they feel passionate about. It’s this kind of selflessness that make me feel honored to be a Valparaiso Crusader.”