It’s pretty standard for colleges to include a new student orientation at the start of each academic year. It’s less common for that orientation to include a service project!
But for many years, incoming students at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, have found a service project on their orientation calendar. In August 2017, Luther College Ministries and the Student Activities Council joined to lead a new project: making Fleece Tie Blankets for Lutheran World Relief.
“We decided to make Fleece Tie Blankets for LWR because it’s a manageable, hands-on project that offers a memorable, visual sign of service with neighbors near and far,” said Pastor Mike Blair from Luther College. “The project also offered a good way to talk about what it means to be an ELCA college and the global partnerships and relationships that bless the mission of Luther College.”
A group of 30 returning students helped organize the event, receiving grants from a local thrift store and Thrivent Financial to purchase fabric and scissors. Those students also coordinated the work of over 500 incoming students over 3-hour-long shifts one Tuesday afternoon. After a brief introduction to LWR’s mission, students broke up into small groups and assembled a total of 134 Fleece Tie Blankets.
The project was a “joyful collaboration,” in more ways than one. According to Pastor Mike, “This project offered a common experience for new students with opportunity for conversation and reflection about shared commitments of service, accompaniment, justice and life together.”
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The Fleece Tie Blankets, awaiting shipment from LWR’s St. Paul warehouse, are colorful reminders of the ties between together students of all backgrounds, multiple student groups at Luther College and LWR.