Interfaith group plans community projects

MAEGAN MITCHELL
Senior Writer

Have you ever wanted to serve your local community, but you didn’t because the money in your pocket didn’t seem like enough to make a difference?

The Service Learning department has created many opportunities through The President’s Interfaith Community Service and Campus Challenge; a volunteer group that aims to give back to the community through time, love and attention.

For the second consecutive year, KC President Dr. Bill Holda has pledged that students, faculty and staff will participate in the challenge and help serve the local community.

At the most recent meeting on Oct. 15, guest speaker, LaKesha Hall from the Boys and Girls Club of Rusk County, spoke with the volunteers regarding the Club’s upcoming Halloween Fair for children.

The event is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 30 at the Boys and Girls Club in Kilgore.

“There will be numerous activities for the kids to participate in,” Candace Heezen, support specialist with Career Services and Student Support, said. “It will be fun for everyone.”

Though most children events are designed for fun and games, as this one will be, volunteers need to remember what it truly means to give back.

“I see the Halloween Fair as a way to let the children know someone cares about them enough to put on this event. There are so many children who don’t have that love and support system,” Patty Bell, director of career services and student support, said. “Their lives will be better… sometimes parents don’t have enough time to spend with them… we kind of supplement that.”

The second planned event, “Movies in the Park,” was presented by guest speaker Amy Canton of the Arc of Gregg County and is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 9 at Spring Hill Park on Fenton Road in Longview.

The event will feature the movie “Temple Grandin,” which is about a successful and well-known autistic woman.

“[The movie night] will create awareness about people with disabilities and help others feel comfortable with it,” Bell said.

“It will not only bring together a community of people who live with disabilities daily, but it will also teach people without disabilities that anything is possible,” she added.

Volunteers are needed to help with face painting, making and serving popcorn, as well as planning future events.

“Every student who has pledged to volunteer has signed up for multiple event,” Heezen said. “The opportunities are so numerous that we will welcome as many people who wish to be involved.”

Heezen added that by volunteering, students can make a difference in their community, strengthen their chances in getting scholarships and get an edge over other applicants when applying for jobs.

“Some students are serving for the very first time and learning how amazing it feels to serve others. Some students, like myself, were brought up to serve others,” Bell said. “This can be an amazing experience, especially for the first-timers.”

At this time, these are the only two events that have been planned. The group is hoping to plan more things in the future and are welcoming any and all volunteer ideas.

“The goal is to leave this world a better place than we found it,” Bell said. “Also, to embrace others who are different and realize we all are better off working together.”

People who are interested in volunteering are encouraged to call the Service Learning department at 903-983-8678.

Information about upcoming events can also be obtained by emailing Bell at pbell@kilgore.edu or Heezen at cheezen@kilgore.edu. Both Heezen and Bell are located in Rooms 111 and 112 in the Student Support Building, respectively.

“It is not just the people with a lot of money who can write a big check… All of us can make a huge difference in the lives of others,” Bell said. “Being a part of a group… making relationships… can make you a more well-rounded person.”