"As lawyers and as people of faith, it's our job to serve," said Darius Davenport, director of Career & Alumni Services for Regent University School of Law. "There's no better way for students to begin their law school career than with some very basic service experiences."
On Friday, August 16, 170 law students launched their legal careers by collectively completing 500 hours of community service throughout the Hampton Roads, Va., area. What originally began as a way for first-year students to connect with the community now involves participation from students in every stage of their scholastic careers. This year marked the largest participation from second and third-year law students.
Students gathered early Friday morning to receive their various project locations. The service day took place at eight different community outreach programs, including the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia, Habitat for Humanity, Chesapeake Bay Foundation and St. Mary's Home for Disabled Children (pictured above).
Davenport, in charge of leading the day's events, spent the morning sorting shoes at Good Mojo thrift store in Norfolk, Va., benefiting the families of ForKids.
"I feel like I vicariously touched 500 feet today—but for a good cause," said Davenport.
The community service day, launched five years ago by Davenport, was born out of one Christmas morning he and a few friends spent at Union Mission Ministries, a homeless shelter in Norfolk, Va. Davenport recalls his desire to expand his reach into the community.
"When I got to Regent, I realized that we could do a whole lot more for many more people," said Davenport. "God really provided the venue to multiply the work."
Students turned into harvesters, quite literally, with the Society of St. Andrew. Tim Pettman, a 2L and graduate assistant for Career & Alumni Services, spent the morning gleaning in a cornfield in Pungo, a rural community in Virginia Beach, Va. Pettman explained how the time he spent gathering food that would be on consumers' tables that same evening was a fulfilling way to begin the school year.
"It was a great opportunity to bond with my fellow classmates outside of the classroom, and it's a way to see the caring side of people," said Pettman."It felt good to get our hands dirty and really help."
Elizabeth Oklevitch, 3L, also spent the morning gleaning corn. Like Pettman, she explained that her favorite part of the day was learning about the ministry unfolding at St. Andrews.
"We do it because life's not just about law school," said Oklevitch. "And that can be really difficult to remember when you're busy with classes."
Matthew Dunckley, 1L, spent the morning of service with Habitat for Humanity. Dunckley noted that reaching out to the community not only allowed him to connect with his fellow classmates; it helped him connect with his beliefs.
"We weren't just there to organize old doors or arrange donated shutters, we were there to be Jesus to the people we were serving; to demonstrate Christ's leadership through servanthood," said Dunckley. "As a lawyer, it's vital to recognize each person's intrinsic value, instead of simply seeing a paying customer."