40 years of Christian service

Junior girls learn about the value of volunteer work

Abby+Johnson+17+and+her+service+group+in+Costa+Rica

Arden Schraff '17

Abby Johnson ’17 and her service group in Costa Rica

Elie Carlos, Writer

There are many rites of passage here at Xavier: going to rallies, attending Frosh Mixer and surviving finals week. Another big tradition at Xavier is the Christian Service Project and this year is its 40th anniversary. According to its homepage on Canvas, “Xavier’s Christian Service Program was founded in 1976, the first program of its kind in Arizona and one of the largest youth service providers in the state.” Much of it has changed in the last 40 years, especially with the aid of technology. According to Mrs. Gina Iker, hours and responses will be on Canvas from now on.

Iker, a Xavier theology teacher, has been leading the program since 2013, and she is suited for the job because she has experienced it herself. “I am an alumna of the project, completing mine as a Junior in 1996,” said Iker. She believes that the program is important because of its goals to not only help those who benefit from the volunteer work of Xavier students but also the students themselves. “Of course, we want to meet the corporeal and spiritual needs of the wider community…but I think the greatest benefit, as expressed by many of our students, is the relationships that are built and the mutual love and appreciation shared by our volunteers with those they serve,” said Iker.

Students who have already completed their hours volunteered at a variety of places. Some students stayed close to home. Junior Siena Gruler delivered messages at Xavier and volunteered for Feed My Starving Children (FMSC). “I really liked FMSC because we got to package food that was sent to starving children to countries in need. Also at the end of every session they told us stories about kids they have been able to help and that made the work much more satisfying,” said Gruler. Others travelled a little farther to provide their help for others. Junior Abby Johnson tutored young kids for an after school center and especially enjoyed working in a village in Costa Rica. “I was able to work at the local school; I built a wheelchair ramp into the side of a hill and built a tilapia tank for them to have fresh fish to eat. It was such a unique experience and I would go back in a heartbeat,” said Johnson.

Now, the current sophomores can begin their volunteer hours for junior year. Although sophomore Madison Kloeber has not begun her volunteer work just yet, she plans on working at Phoenix Children’s Hospital where she has been a representative for the Spinal Fusion Program and answers questions for those having spinal fusion surgery. “Spinal Fusion Surgery is a major operation, which can get very stressful for patients as well as their families.  I let the patients know what to expect after surgery, and I offer advice about pain and stress management based on my first-hand experience,” said Kloeber.

Like any Xavier tradition, the Christian Service Project brings students closer to each other and to their community.