CIU Students Serve the City

Kaitlyn Thompson sorts clothes at the Salvation Army thrift shop. (Photos by Kierston Smith)
April 07, 2021

By Bob Holmes

Columbia International University athlete Josh Ford says he averages about 15,000 steps each day. But on the morning of CIU’s Serving Cola City project, he had already hit 10,000 steps by 10:30 as his 15-member clean-up team worked along Monticello Road, picking up litter and clearing overgrown sections of the sidewalk.

“This is a road that leads to our school and we should take pride in keeping our community nice looking,” Ford said.

Ford was one of hundreds from the student body who fanned out across Columbia (often abbreviated as Cola City) on a beautiful spring morning for various projects designed to improve blighted areas or assist churches, ministries and charities with light duty work at their properties. Some of the projects included painting, household repairs, building a wheelchair ramp and landscaping.

As birds chirped in the nearby trees, senior Eli Snead and his crew were freshening up the yard and garden of a home located a couple miles from campus in the Crane Creek area. Snead is a Bible major who plans on working in ministry after graduation.

“We are the body of Christ. He uses our hands and our feet to glorify Him so that at the end of the day everybody will call Him Lord,” Snead said of the work.

Meanwhile, the CIU women’s softball team gathered at Hope Church on the other side of the Broad River, collecting several bags of litter from Seminole Road where the church is located. They also spruced up the portion of the church grounds that used to belong to a strip club before it was purchased by the church.

“The pastor shared the story of what this land used to be,” said Head Softball Coach Sara Allen who noted her team was excited to be a part of Serving Cola City. “I think when you see the Kingdom purposes and the community purposes, it’s really easy to buy into what you’re doing out here.” 

Serving Cola City drew the attention of Columbia area media outlets. WIS TV included the event in a live portion of their noon hour newscast, and ABC Columbia also reported on the day. The Richland County Sheriff’s Department tweeted that the CIU students were assisting in the Sheriff’s Department’s Project Hope.  

Serving Cola City was a part of the commemoration of Evangelical Unity Week, one of CIU’s core values.

Check out this video from the service activities around Columbia and the celebration on The CIU Quad at the end of the day. 

With record enrollment in 2020, CIU consistently ranks among the Top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News & World Report, as well as a Best Value Regional University in the SouthRequest information on enrollment at CIU and Columbia Biblical Seminary at (800) 777-2227, ext. 5024 or www.ciu.edu.