For the first time, each of the four graduating classes at Wheaton were given the opportunity to partake in Orientation Committee’s annual community service day in downtown Chicago. For the fourth year, freshmen divide into groups led by sophomore leaders, who serve as guides for the day in Chicago. These “GO Guides” attended many meetings and training sessions in preparation for their leadership in the city on Monday, Aug. 25.
On Sunday night, sophomore GO Guide pairs met their groups for the first time for the “Slice of Wheaton” dinner. The boy and girl teams formerly known as “Big Sibs” were given the opportunity to meet their groups before spending the next day in Chicago together. According to sophomore Bethany Thomas, this time spent eating pizza on the lawn was an invaluable time of bonding that contributed to the cohesiveness of the group during their time in the city.
The next day, freshmen and sophomores boarded buses and made their way to the various gardens, churches and schools where they volunteered for approximately five hours, helping with cleanup, manual labor and organization as needed. Sophomore Abriel Lee, who spent the day working with two groups in an elementary school library, said that it was an effective way to form connections with the new students, as well as benefit the people at the locations they visited. “I do think that we blessed them,” said Lee. “It was actually something that they needed a lot of people to do.”
In planning community service day, Orientation Committee wanted to give freshmen an experience that would introduce them to opportunities they will have during their time at Wheaton. Julia Dennis, who helped oversee the GO Guides program, said, “In planning ChicaGO Community Service day and then executing it, I think I realized the importance of having a Chicago experience, other than the touristy one that many freshmen get. CSD helps expose freshmen to many sides of Chicago that are left unseen. Chicago is so near to us and there is great need there, but students often don’t realize it or don’t do anything. Through CSD, the new freshmen are introduced to a more full picture of Chicago and are able to serve the people and ministries there.”
According to senior Michael Daugherty, head of Orientation Committee, the purpose of Community Service Day was threefold. First, to provide a shared experience together; second, to give new students the chance to get out of Wheaton and to remind them of the proximity of the city; and third, to demonstrate the key role that service is in the Wheaton community by making it an integral component from the very beginning. Senior Constance Lee, another leader of the GO Guides program, said that these goals were accomplished throughout the day. “Community service day was a big success. Despite a few hiccups with the weather, the freshmen did a great job of being flexible and serving at each of their sites. It was neat to see and hear how well everyone worked together, accomplishing a tremendous amount of work,” she said.