HU students again 'plunge' into town

Huntington University freshman Matt Bittner (on ladder) replaces ceiling tiles at Life Church in Huntington as Josh Barkley observes during the annual HU Volunteer Plunge on Saturday, Aug. 29. Bittner is a freshman exercise science major from Convoy, OH.
Huntington University freshman Matt Bittner (on ladder) replaces ceiling tiles at Life Church in Huntington as Josh Barkley observes during the annual HU Volunteer Plunge on Saturday, Aug. 29. Bittner is a freshman exercise science major from Convoy, OH. Photo provided.

New students at Huntington University plunged into their college experience by volunteering at several places throughout the Huntington community on Aug. 29.

For 16 years, the university's new students have participated in the Joe Mertz Center's Volunteer Plunge. This year, 25 teams comprised of more than 285 freshmen and transfer students, 28 mentor students and 31 faculty and staff worked on projects from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

The Volunteer Plunge is a part-day of community service held each year in conjunction with Huntington University's comprehensive, three-day, new student orientation.

The teams helped with painting, cleaning out facilities, building maintenance, lawn care, mulching, washing vehicles, socializing with nursing home residents and picking up litter.

"The Lord blessed us with great weather and an excellent JMC staff who kept us well organized," said Grace McBrayer, director of first year students and volunteer service. "It's always quite a feat to send out 25 groups of students, but it went very well. Our faculty members are such great people, many bringing their own supplies and items to help the day go smoothly. Several groups returned with drinks and goodies that our hosts gave them and were excited about their experiences. All in all the day was a great success."

Service locations for the 2009 Volunteer Plunge included the Bible Baptist Church, Church of Our Glorious King, Dan Quayle Center, Forks of the Wabash, Habitat for Hu-manity, Helping Paws, Huntington Church of the Brethren, Huntington First Church of the Nazarene, Huntington Head Start, Huntington County Chapter of the American Red Cross, the Huntington County Boys and Girls Club, Huntington House, Kids Kampus, Life Church, Love INC, Miller's Merry Manor, Neighborhood Naturally Occurring Re-tirement Communities program, Pathfinder Services, Riverview Middle School, Salamo-nie Nature Center, Salamonie Reservoir, Salamonie School, St. Peter's First Community Church, Victory Knoll and the YMCA.

Founded in 1992, the Joe Mertz Center for Volunteer Service has become an integral part of Huntington University campus life. The center is a student-directed organization that mobilizes the campus community for Christian service. The JMC aims to involve stu-dents in the local community, instill a lifelong tendency toward service and promote the idea that one person can make a difference.

During the 2008-2009 academic year, students, faculty and staff volunteered for more than 11,000 hours, serving families, organizations and programs.

The Joe Mertz Center has been listed as an exemplary program in the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll and the John Templeton Foundation Honor Roll of Character-Building Colleges.