ANDERSON — Dried blades of grass crunched beneath the feet of J.B. Bilbrey and Isaac Sliger as they crossed the school grounds of Eastside Elementary.
The teens were braving blistering heat on Friday armed with only water bottles, disposable gloves and a clear industrial sized garbage bag.
And these Anderson University students were on a mission – to collect garbage.
“It’s good to help others and this program will help to build our relationship with the community,” said Bilbrey, 18, from New Castle.
The students were volunteering to help Anderson’s community schools as part of a new student service project. This year more than 400 students participated in the program which is structured around the university’s core values of integrity, responsibility, excellence, servant leadership and generosity.
On Friday, the students were practicing how to be responsible members of the community.
“This project shows what direction the Anderson University centennial class is striving for — not only for today, but every day,” said Sliger, 19, of Rushville.
Abby Knowles, Anderson University assistant dean of students and the director of the school’s first-year experience program, said this is the first year the university was able to partner with Anderson’s community schools.
“We wanted to attempt to be a blessing to the community schools,” Knowles said. “To the best of my knowledge it went really smoothly. We even had students who called asking if they had brought their own transportation if they could stay to finish a project.”
Eastside Elementary Dean Leah Maxey said she appreciated the efforts of the students volunteering.
“It’s great,” she said. “They are willing to jump in there and do anything we ask.”
About 100 students helped clean out a school storage area, pick up garbage and assist with custodial tasks at Eastside.
Anna Wilde, 19, from Richmond said she was a little tired after spending the afternoon cleaning out a storage closet, but she had a lot of fun.
“It gives me a chance to get out in the community,” she said. “I would have never done this on my own, so it’s nice.”
Anna Rayis, president of the Anderson University student United Way program, and Sarah Hatfield, student coordinator for Anderson University Student Life, coordinated this year’s service project and both said they were pleased with the event.
“I’m glad we were able to help the schools in the area,” Hatfield said.
There are other advantages to the new student orientation service project — students like Bilbrey and Sliger become friends.
Bilbrey is studying Christian ministries and Sliger is studying finance, but the boys discovered they have things in common.
“And we are in the same dorm,” said Bilbrey.
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More on the program Anderson University stresses five core values through its new student orientation program. The following is a breakdown of the university's core values: Integrity Responsibility Excellence Servant Leadership Generosity Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University has about 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students majoring in more than 65 undergraduate and graduate programs.This year more than 400 students volunteered to paint dugouts, help pickup trash and pull weeds as part of the university's community service project.