This weekend, September 16-18, is Family Weekend at Luther College. For students, this is a welcome opportunity to spend time with family, perhaps including a meal off campus. It also provides students an opportunity to share their experiences with parents. First-year students will have had powerful experiences even in their short time here, and returning students may find this an opportunity to share their local discoveries such as the Farmers Market, local art studios, and the many options for hiking (Malanaphy Springs anyone?).
Students new to the community have seen how their peers respond to community needs; they may even have pitched in themselves. Prior to orientation, Decorah was hit hard by a persistent storm system that brought record-setting rain in a short period of time. The rain produced significant flooding in the broader area and it significantly affected some Luther employees’ homes.
Our students stepped up and helped with flood remediation in individual homes. For community members in need, this was welcome support. I can appreciate how welcome the help from students can be. While our home was affected – we had to clear most of our basement – it was nowhere near the scale others had to experience. But, having the extra hands made the clean up process less daunting for affected families. It also was Luther’s mission in action. That is, our students served with distinction for the common good.
Another way in which our students served our community – in this case our world community – was to create fleece tie blankets during orientation. First year students gathered in the Center for Faith and Life on Tuesday during orientation week and spent an hour cutting and tying fleece blankets. Over 120 blankets were assembled and are destined for Lutheran World Relief to benefit families in areas of need around the globe. This was a visible way to see early on how we are interconnected with the broader world and how students can make a difference to those in need.
These are but two examples of how our students respond to needs in the community. From volunteering at the Decorah Community Free Clinic, teaching English as a second language in Postville, assisting with the Community Food Pantry, teaching Sunday school, walking dogs at the Humane Society and more. Luther students actively engage in the local community that illuminates many of the wonderful ways they bring their gifts, talents, and strengths to the world.