In January 2017, the Ithaca College Protestant Community held its second annual “Love Does,” a 5-day, local mission event preceding the Spring semester. The purpose of this venture was to put love into action by serving the community in various ways. Teams of 3-6 people volunteered at local organizations dedicated to the service of people in need. One such place was Loaves & Fishes, where students cooked and served meals for the hungry people of Ithaca. Students also visited Second Wind Cottages, an organization committed to building homes, and helped move equipment and clean up the site. Thrift stores, food pantries, and shelters were visited as well. Whenever trip participants had down time, we took part in “blessings” – random acts of kindness for people around the city and the college campus, such as handing out hot chocolate or Love Buttons from the Love Button Global Movement.
Several speakers came to address the students at Love Does. We were joined by Dr. Christopher House from Ithaca College, Pastor Santosh Ninan from Bethel Grove Bible Church, Chuck Newman from Second Wind Cottages, and Michael Foster from the Ithaca Rescue Mission. All these speakers brought messages that tied the issues surrounding social justice directly into our Christian faith. Topics such as racism, drug use & rehabilitation, and homelessness were all addressed. Most importantly, the speakers helped us see that it is our duty, as followers of Christ, to recognize the downtrodden people of society as highly valued children of God, to enter into their lives, and to walk with them. Love, when properly understood, translates into action. We continue to strive to pursue this as a community.