The Jackson State University Center for University-Based Development (CUBD) hosted the university’s annual Crop Drop on Saturday, Aug. 27, in the parking lot of Blackburn Laboratory Middle School.
A line of cars began forming as early as 8 a.m. stretching from one side of JSU’s campus to the other. Over 200 volunteers swiftly bagged and gifted 20,000 pounds of sweet potatoes donated by the Society of St. Andrews to each recipient, greeting them with warm smiles and the occasional high-energy dance session.
Heather Denne’, Ph.D., director of university-based development, expressed her deep appreciation for the JSU students who committed themselves to serving others and to put the community’s needs first.
“It is always an honor to host the JSU Crop Drop. It provides an exciting opportunity to further the mission of Jackson State University by exposing our students to a life of service,” Denne’ said. “It is really encouraging to see more than 200 students engage with joy and purpose even as they are impacted with navigating the current boil water notice.
This demonstrates the deep commitment to service and shows our students’ willingness to serve and put the community’s needs before their own. JSU is always ready to go above and beyond for the West Jackson residents.”
The community service event also welcomed JSU freshmen to the university’s many community engagement activities. Graduation requirements include students completing 120 hours of service. However, for some students, service is more than a checkbox; it is a virtue of life.
Freshman public health major Caleb Pickens described his overall experience as a necessary civic duty – ultimately providing him a sense of satisfaction and eagerness to identify more service projects.
“I really enjoy projects like this. I mean, this is truly putting a community above yourself, which I think needs to be done in Jackson,” said Pickens, a Jackson native. “We go to school here. We live within a community, so you can help give back to that community.”
Through a collaborative partnership with JSU, the Society of St. Andrews – Mississippi (MS) Gleaning Network donated 20,000 pounds of sweet potatoes, 350 watermelons, and 1,000 cases of bottled water. The organization is a volunteer-driven network that saves produce annually and uses it to feed hungry people across the state.
Regional Director of the MS Gleaning Network Langston Moore expressed deep gratitude toward the JSU community for years of unwavering support and a blossoming partnership that continues to grow with each communal encounter.
“We already set two records today for this event. We unloaded 10,000 pounds of sweet potatoes in 20 minutes, and they bagged 10,000 pounds in 45 minutes,” said Moore. “The support JSU gives us is unprecedented. As long as they want to have us, we’ll always come back.”
‘A legacy of leadership. A home in service.’
Among the sea of volunteers, aspiring student leaders provided uplifting energy during the distribution process.
Freshmen Maya Grimes, a business administration major from St. Louis, Missouri, and Jordan McCollins, an electrical engineer major from Batesville, Mississippi, emphasized their early foundations of service and leadership, which were instilled in them at an early age.
“The crop drop has been awesome to serve the community,” said Grimes. “I’ve been at Jackson State all my life. My mother went here, so it made sense for me to be here, but everybody’s transition was not the same, and everybody didn’t have that same opportunity to be here before they came.”
Both students aspire to one day serve in a leadership capacity on campus in an effort to establish solid foundations for incoming students to succeed and assist their peers who may struggle with adjusting to the new environment.
“Community service has always been a big part of my life, and I just enjoy helping out other people. It brings me energy, just showing up and making a difference. The small things can truly brighten someone’s day,” said McCollins, who has participated in several community initiatives since childhood, including Boy Scouts of America and volunteering his time at a local adult daycare.
The Crop Drop, in many ways, presented an opportunity for first-year students to assess their new “dear ol’ college home” and its surrounding community through the act of service.
Media Contact: Kyle Kidd, email@example.com