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Annual 'snapshot' shows expansion of Elon’s service to the community

The annual report offers a look at the various ways that Elon students participate in service work each year and their opinions about service. 

Elon students combined to provide nearly 108,000 hours of service during the 2016-17 academic year, with 100 percent of the university’s community partners saying that they want students to continue serving with them in a wide range of ways. 

The insights are part of Elon’s annual Snapshot of Service, which seeks to demonstrate how the university community is living out its focus on making service a part of the Elon experience. Mary Morrison, director of the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement said the positive feedback from community partners speaks to a high level of trust and respect.

​“To have 100 percent of those who responded say they want to continue to work with students is pretty impressive,” Morrison said. “It speaks to the depth and quality of the relationships we’ve sustained over time.”

Last year also saw greater utilization of Elon’s Downtown Center for Community Engagement at 217 E. Davis St. in Burlington, a 1,700-square-foot building that is available for university and community use. During 2016-17, the center saw 3,435 users compared to 1,952 during 2015-16. 

“It has taken some time for people to understand we have a downtown center and realize that it’s an option for students, faculty and staff as well as for nonprofits in the surrounding area,” Morrison said. “That awareness is growing thanks to word-of-mouth.”

Other highlights from the Snapshot of Service: 

  • Campus Kitchen, which collects unused and unserved food for community partners, harvested 4,336 pounds of food from the university’s Loy Farm during the 2016-17 academic year, according to the Snapshot of Service. 
  • 1,351 students completed more than 20 hours of service during the year. 
  • 91 percent of students involved in Elon Volunteers! Say they view themselves as engaged citizens and scholars. Morrison said the Kernodle Center has helped foster discussions about civic engagement, with students who are surveyed saying they feel like regardless of their point of view, the Center is a place where people can have honest and open conversations. 
  • 1,334 fraternity and sorority members engaged in service, and 210 students participated in 15 Alternative Break programs. 

Morrison said that Elon maintains high standards for logging and reporting service work, and a challenge remains in capturing all of the good work that the broader university is undertaking, whether it be through volunteering with local organizations or participating in service-learning courses. Morrison also notes that the Snapshot reflects service by undergraduates at the university, with the numbers likely higher once work by graduate students is factored in.

Owen Covington,
7/24/2017 4:05 PM