It’s an early Saturday morning in October 2007, and CSU, Chico finance major Jeremy Sankwich takes a break from unloading enough tri-tip to feed nearly 600 people and looks across the Kendall Hall Lawn. The campus is unusually peaceful at eight in the morning, and Sankwich takes a deep breath, getting prepared for the day ahead, one that he’s been planning for more than a semester. Soon, students start descending on the campus, more than 500 of them, ready for a morning of work and then a barbecue lunch.
That morning marked the ninth annual Scour & Devour, an event conceived in 1998 by Bob Sprague, then pastor of the campus Christian organization The Edge and an instructor in the Department of Communication. He envisioned an event in which 100 students would unite to serve CSU, Chico and the community for a day.
The event quickly evolved into Scour & Devour, organized by The Edge, with groups from all over the University participating. “We make it easy for groups to do something together, make a contribution to the community, and have some fun,” says Sprague. “They don’t have to plan; they just have to get folks there.”
Scour & Devour has been a rousing success. Student organizations from all over campus serve the community by picking up trash, painting fences and walls, planting flowers, washing buildings, and general cleanup—on campus, downtown, in Chico city parks, along the railroad tracks, and in other areas around Chico. The Greeks, AS Recycling, AS Bookstore, and CAVE put together work groups in addition to smaller groups from all over campus. In 2007, more than 500 student volunteers and 200 other individuals participated in the cleanup, filling 50 40-yard dumpsters with more than 100 tons of debris—not counting the more than 100 refrigerators and other appliances that were picked up in Chapmantown, the 2007 focus area.
Supplies, funds, and food are donated by local businesses; dumpsters are provided for free by local waste management companies. The City of Chico’s code enforcement officers, City Council members, and Butte County supervisors help the organizers target areas for cleanup.
The coordination of all these players was an enormous task, says Sankwich, who organized the 2007 Scour and Devour event as an intern. “I networked with the city; waste management; University faculty, staff, and administration; student clubs and groups; and local nonprofits, businesses, and media. Every facet of the Chico community gets involved in this event. The reason they’re willing to donate so much energy to Scour is that people love this city, and they love this campus.”
Sprague adds, “Scour & Devour connects with the mission of the University. Students come together, under the banner of the University, to serve the campus and the community.”
Scour & Devour isn’t the only event in which students give their time and energy for those in need. The 2008 Up ’Til Dawn fund-raiser saw Chico State students raise more money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, than any other college in the nation. More than 2,000 student volunteers spent all night sending out more than 37,000 letters requesting support, bringing in $183,561. In six years, Chico students have raised more than $677,000 for the hospital.
Staff and faculty also demonstrate their commitment to the University’s values of service and community through a number of projects. The Wildcat Relay for Life team raised more than $17,000 in 2007 for the American Cancer Society. The Staff Council has sponsored regular campus blood drives since 1970 (10 in 2007–2008). In 2007, the University donated 1,121 pints of blood to BloodSource, the sole supplier of blood used by more than 40 hospitals in 25 North State counties. The Staff Council also sponsors the University Needy Children’s Program—in 2007, the program’s 22nd year, 207 children from 91 local families received gifts and a holiday meal thanks to donations from campus departments and offices.
“At the heart of our value system is a sense of service, guided by compassion and engagement,” said CSU, Chico President Paul Zingg after the 2008 Up ’Til Dawn success. “Our participation in the St. Jude’s Up ’Til Dawn program underscores the truth of what we affirm.” And students, faculty, staff, and administration continue to affirm these values with their time, their energy, and their commitment to community.