Students, faculty, staff, and alumni of The King’s College rallied together for the Fifth Annual Day of Service on January 26, a day-long long effort to meet the practical and spiritual needs of fellow New Yorkers. This year, 166 individuals volunteered with four local ministries from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., making this one of largest Days of Service yet, said Eric Bennett, Director of Student Development.
Teams sorted clothing and served meals at The Bowery Mission, built bookshelves and distributed groceries at New York Gospel Ministries (NYGM), delivered hot meals with Carter Burden Network, and served meals and gave out groceries at The Father’s Heart Ministries. Some students encouraged their friends to join in by coordinating their two-hour shifts so they could serve alongside each other.
This year was Jon Adler’s (MCA ’19) fourth participating in the Day of Service. At The Bowery Mission’s clothing closet, he moved several hundred pounds of coats, shoes, shirts, and sweaters from attic storage to the downstairs clothing area and helped fold and sort the clothes by size and type. “I’m very grateful for an organized chance to serve as a community,” Adler says. “I think it’s such a minimal amount of time that every student should help. Two hours once a year is less time than we as King’s students spend doing almost anything.”
Participating in the Day of Service for the first time, Katie Medders (PPE ’19) joined a few other members of her House (ten Boom) at The Father’s Heart food pantry, where she helped sort food and package groceries. “I had the opportunity to speak with individuals who regularly volunteer with Father’s Heart Ministries. It was encouraging to hear about how the ministry has grown and the work they are doing in the city,” Medders says.
As the 2018-19 Service Coordinators, Daniel Powers (PPE ’19) and Phillip Reeves (PPE ’19) were responsible for organizing this year’s Day of Service. (Their role connecting students to volunteer service projects throughout the year has previously been called “City Engagement,” but the name changed this year to better reflect the initiative’s aims.) Powers and Reeves say, “We wanted to be Service Co-Coordinators because we saw untapped potential for our community to step up in the city, and decided we wanted to do our best to make that happen. Service is a chance to get outside of yourself and live in the example of Christ—putting others first and seeing that life is about His kingdom.”
The Bowery Mission and New York Gospel Ministries were natural choices to incorporate in the January 26 effort, since the College has joined with both of these organizations at several past Days of Service and students volunteer regularly at these ministries throughout the year. The House of Corrie ten Boom and the House of C.S. Lewis have an ongoing partnership with The Bowery Mission, and The House of Ronald Reagan and the House of Queen Elizabeth I volunteer weekly with NYGM. NYGM receives food donations from places like Trader Joe’s a few nights a week, and King’s volunteers drive to pick up the food and unload it at the NYGM’s food pantry. The following day, NYGM organizes several pickup times when visitors can fill a grocery cart with a selection of fruits, vegetables, meat, bread, eggs, flowers, and other items.
“NYGM really is the relationship that it is because of Daniel,” Reeves says. “He’s served almost every week for the last three years. He was the service associate in Reagan for two and a half years until we came on as Service Co-Coordinators. Even if he was the only one able to go, he still did food pickups from 10:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. without fail. That consistency eventually built up a consistent group of people in Reagan and QE1 who come every week. That consistency has also built up immense trust with Pastor Bill Jones (the head of NYGM). This past Saturday, Pastor Bill spent several minutes thanking Daniel for giving him a reliable partner who cares about the development of his ministry.”
The relationships with Carter Burden and The Father’s Heart Ministries are newer. Joey and Kylie Willis, Christian formation coordinators at King’s, have previously served at Father’s Heart and suggested it to Reeves and Powers; the director of events on the student cabinet, Julia Briggs (MCA ’19) recommending collaborating with the Carter Burden Network. “Both opportunities were terrific for the Day of Service,” Powers and Reeves say. “There are few more tangible ways to serve than providing food.”
Kylie Willis describes the Carter Burden Network as “essentially Meals-On-Wheels, except on foot.” Willis helped to deliver hot meals to homebound elderly during the Day of Service. Delivering the food is also an opportunity to check on the well-being of each person, since many struggle with mobility and have minimal interaction with others. One woman in particular on the Carter Burden route stood out to Willis. “She wanted to engage with us, not just take the food and close her door. It felt really meaningful to spend a few moments with her.”
Willis adds, “I believe that engaging in service and giving of yourself and your time has a profound effect on shaping your character. In a world that is so obsessed with self, the Day of Service gives our community the opportunity to look beyond ourselves and respond in a way that not only satisfies the needs of others, but in a strange way satisfies a deep need within each of us. We have been called to respond to the world with kindness and compassion, to ‘love thy neighbor,’ and service gives us an opportunity to do just that.”