Andrews University held its seventh annual Change Day, the university’s yearly community service day, on September 14, 2023. An estimated 1,200 students and employees served at more than 35 locations throughout Berrien Springs, Michigan, and surrounding communities.
Participants started the day at 8:30 a.m. at the Flag Mall between the James White Library and Pioneer Memorial Church to receive T-shirts, pick up pre-packed lunches, and check in with their volunteer groups. The Meijer (Midwest region supermarket) in Stevensville donated $500 towards providing breakfast for the many volunteers. After a group photo was taken, participants dispersed to their respective project sites.
Some of the most popular service projects included visiting nursing homes, repainting fire hydrants in St. Joseph, and preparing gift packages for the Christmas Behind Bars project, which provides Christmas gifts for people who are incarcerated. Christmas Behind Bars, which is led by Pastor Dennis Page, is a part of each year’s Change Day. One volunteer shared, “I’m lucky that I get to spend my Christmas at home, but others are not, so I’m glad I got to create bags with treats for people who are in prisons so that they receive a little bit of hope.”
Another major component of the day was the Change Day Career Exploration Fair for area high school students. This event was held in the Andreasen Center for Wellness.
Survey results from volunteers showed a strong correlation between their faith and serving their community. Seventy-four percent of participants said they were very likely to participate in service projects again. “I really enjoy getting involved in service activities because not only does it bless the people we get to help but it also blesses me in the process and teaches me important life skills,” said one student participant.
Several departments, student clubs, and student leaders helped support Change Day activities by promoting different project sites. Change Day also incorporated many external organizations that collaborated with the university to address various community needs. “This day could not have been possible without all our amazing staff and student help from our departments such as Transportation, University Communication, Center for Faith Engagement, Student Life, Grounds, and Plant Service employees,” Teela Ruehle, Change Day coordinator, emphasized. “A special thank you to Allen Wellborn’s Custodial team who worked all week helping set up for our biggest project in the Johnson Gym, and also the career fair, while juggling the needs of our campus.”