Dozens of Northwestern State University students are boarding buses Friday destined to lend a hand to the Robeline Food Pantry as part of a pact to do one good thing each week.
NSU is partnering with the 1 of 7 concept. The Washington D.C. nonprofit organization was founded by NSU alumnus Kip Patrick.
It encourages people to do one service activity each week and make it a lifestyle choice.
Patrick says he and his wife founded 1 of 7 after they took a trip around the world, visited more than 70 countries, and did service projects most every place they went.
“Sometimes, people have this desire to help others, but they don’t know how to do it. Or, they think it will take too much time. Or, they don’t feel they’re the right person to do it,” Patrick said, who works for the World Bank supplying clean water and toilets to people in developing nations. “What we found is anybody can do it. Anybody can help others. It doesn’t take a lot of time. You can do it in your everyday life.”
NSU’s director of the first-year experience, Reatha Cox, is incorporating service activities into the students’ introduction to college, something that many colleges are doing. Cox passed out wristbands that say “1 of 7” to remind students to stay committed to doing good deeds.
“Each week, we’ll have at least one structured activity that students can participate in in a volunteer capacity. Then, our goal is students will do it on their own and begin to look at service as a lifestyle,” Cox said.
NSU senior Matt Spence of Houma, La., says that service opportunities abound in Natchitoches, and these acts spread good will between the town and college.
“I’m from four hours away. It’s nice to come here and give back to the community because Natchitoches is such an integral part of NSU, being the small town and small university that it is. I think it’s important to keep that working relationship with the community,” Spence said.
The idea formed when Patrick and his wife were in Nepal, hiking up to the Mount Everest base camp. They noticed a lot of trash along the trail and tied bags to their packs to fill with litter along the way.
“As we did that, it caught on and more and more people were joining us in picking up trash. As we came down the trail, we saw more and more people doing the same thing,” Patrick said.
NSU is the first college to partner with 1 of 7. Patrick plans to hold regular conference calls with Cox and the students to ensure the service projects are running smoothly.
Robeline Food Pantry serves about 250 families annually. The students will sweep, paint, rake and sort food for the fall baskets.