The walls of the Redeemer North Hill United Methodist Church were transformed Saturday.
Over four hours, with two groups of about a dozen volunteers each working for two hours each, the yellow walls in the hall, where a free meal is served to those in the community in need every Friday at 11:30 a.m., were brightened to an antique white.
The painting job was done by University of Akron volunteers who took time to lend a helping hand to a small church in North Akron.
The painting job was part of a massive volunteer effort called Make a Difference Day on the University of Akron campus and across the country.
This was the ninth year that UA students took part in Make a Difference Day, a national community service day established more than 20 years ago by USA Weekend Magazine, the magazine of USA Today, and the Points of Light organization, the nonprofit formed after the speech by President George H.W. Bush that spoke of “a thousand points of light” in a call to nationwide service every day.
Three million volunteers were expected to take part nationwide Saturday, including about 700 UA volunteers who partnered with 35 local charitable organizations at 60 project sites, said Alison E. Doehring, UA’s coordinator of civic engagement.
Some of the locations where students volunteered included the Akron Canton Regional Foodbank; the Battered Women’s Shelter; Good Samaritan Hunger Center; Habitat for Humanity of Summit County; and the Ronald McDonald House of Akron.
At the North Akron church at 265 E. Cuyahoga Falls Ave., a church that a few years ago saw the North Hill United Methodist Church combine with Redeemer United Methodist, a group of volunteers prepared the walls for two hours in the morning and another group finished the painting in the afternoon.
Brian Foust, 19, of North Canton, a freshman mechanical engineering major, was part of a group from UA’s Emerging Leaders organization who volunteered.
“It is always important to give back to the community,” said Foust, who has taken part in mission trips and other volunteer projects through his church, First Friends Church.
“It is important to help people out when you can ... to show love to everyone you can when you can,” he said.
Bayann Jundi, a 19-year-old UA sophomore, said giving two hours of time to a worthy project was a great way to spend an October weekend morning.
“What better to do on a Saturday?” she said.
Volunteer Kelsey Jones, a 19-year-old freshman communications major from Green, said she volunteers regularly with her church, the RiverTree Christian Church.
Her job was to paint two coats on a portion of the room.
“Once you get started, you have to keep going and truck through it,” she said of the energy required to transform a large fellowship hall in just a few hours.
Up to 100 people are served weekly in the fellowship hall in a program hosted by the church with the help of several other congregations, said Bob Gibbons, husband of the church’s pastor, the Rev. Debbie Gibbons.
“I don’t know what it would cost” if the church would have to pay to have the painting done, he said.
The church gets from 30 to 35 people on a Sunday for its worship service, Gibbons said, and is very appreciative of the volunteers’ work.
“This is so helpful,” he said.
A wall hanging in the fellowship hall reflected the spirit of what happened in the room on Saturday. The wall hanging was inscribed with these words: Happiness is love-service.
Newman’s Own was the supporter of the event, and will be awarding $10,000 to the charities of each of the 10 national honorees and three city awardees selected for prizes from Saturday’s event.
Winners will be honored in a special April 2014 edition of USA Weekend.
Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or email@example.com.