For the second year in a row, Bethel kicked off its school year with a group service project.

The Aug. 18 food packaging, done through Outreach, a nonprofit based in Union, Iowa, gave freshmen and transfer students a bonding experience while also reinforcing Bethel values. It was part of Bethel Bridge, a two-day orientation program for new students.

Peter Goerzen ’07, Bethel campus pastor, gave a presentation just before the packaging event, in which he related it to several Bethel core values—discipleship, service and peace and social justice.

“Packaging food for people in our community is doing justice for those who struggle to make ends meet,” Goerzen said, “and when we do justice, then peace may prevail in our community. This is all part of how we understand discipleship—doing the will of God by serving others, making peace and doing justice.”

Isaac McNary, regional manager for Outreach in Kansas, organized about 250 people—all new students, members of the Student Government Association and some faculty and staff—to package 20,000 meals that the Salvation Army will use to feed the hungry in Harvey County.

“Giving back to the community feels good,” said freshman Ty Harris, while freshman Chloe Bequillard noted that it was “a good experience to help the community with something hands-on.”

“It felt amazing that something so small, putting macaroni into a bag, could help a family,” said Logan Dahl, a junior transfer student.

“At my high school, we never had a community service project. This felt great, the first thing out of the gate—I’m really impressed with Bethel for doing this.”

Funding for the project came from grants made by the North Newton Community Foundation and the Women’s Community Foundation and donations by Bethel alumni and friends.