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Ole Miss Students Turn Trash Into Cash For Summer Missions

A few hours after the final whistle, the once packed Grove is nearly clear except for a few small groups of students with trash bags in their hands. The students laugh as they pick up leftover food, drinks and coolers. 

For five of the home games this year, Ole Miss Baptist Student Union members gathered together to help clean up trash as a part of Grove cleanup. Based on a partnership between the group and the landscape service, the BSU is paid $13 per person an hour for their work.

According to BSU missions’ leader, Michelle Miller, all of the proceeds go to student missionary funds.

img_1329“The BSU has made around $8,000 from Grove cleanup this year,” Miller said. “We set a goal of $9,000 every year, and send that money to our state BSU, which then takes fundraising from BSUs across all Mississippi campuses and dispenses out the money to Mississippi students going on summer missions.”

BSU has participated in Grove cleanup since the fall of 2005 and has sent student missionaries to Southeast Asia, East Asia, Mexico, Zimbabwe, Australia and more. BSU students have also served domestically in Alaska, New Mexico and Maine.

Will Pate, a junior from Mooreville, Mississippi, traveled to a small city in southern Mexico through the BSU last summer.

“I was only there for three weeks, but it seemed like a lifetime,” Pate said. “I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.”

Pate said the experience taught him how to boldly share his faith, both abroad and when he returned to campus in the fall.

img_1326“My favorite memory from that mission trip was telling a complete stranger about what I believe as a Christian and why, and then having him ask to go to church with me and learn more about it,” Pate said. “This made me realize that there are so many people out there searching for something to believe in while so many Christians are hesitant to share their beliefs, especially on our college campuses. It’s ok to believe in something, and it’s great to share what you believe in.”

While the raised funds benefit student missionaries directly, BSU president Jenna Smiley also believes every participant gains something else by serving in Grove cleanup. To Smiley, Grove cleanup is another way for BSU members to share the gospel with their community.

“At the BSU, we believe that every person who professes faith in Christ has a responsibility to share the gospel with every around them, whether it is your classmate or someone on the other side of the world,” Smiley said. “Using one summer to serve the Lord will definitely bleed into the rest of a student’s life back at home. That’s what it’s done for me.”

Pate encourages any student to inquire for further information on summer missions with the BSU.

“I would absolutely encourage every Christian student to take hold of this great opportunity while you have the chance,” Pate said. “It is very easy to get involved with this program. Just ask anyone that goes to BSU about it or visit the BSU and ask the staff.”img_1376

By Katelin Davis, a student of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. She can be reached at kadavis6@go.olemiss.edu.

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