Annual Mountain Day of Service

expands further into the community for 14th year

On Wednesday, April 11, students, faculty, staff and alumni joined to complete nearly 1,000 hours of volunteer work for Mountain Day of Service.

For this year’s event, volunteers expended efforts even further into the community, covering projects across Avery and Watauga counties. Alumni across the nation were also invited to give back to their local communities too.

“Working together with our communities during Mountain Day of Service is a wonderful chance for us to demonstrate the College’s motto: In the Mountains, Of the Mountains, For the Mountains,” Vice President of Student Development and Dean of Students Jon Driggers said. “The students really wanted to branch out further into the community, so that was a big focus for this year’s event.”

Mountain Day of Service is just a portion of a larger weeklong celebration on campus—Appalachian Heritage Week sponsored by the Stephenson Center for Appalachia. The week celebrates Western North Carolina’s rich heritage with traditional Appalachian-themed events, performances and dinners.

Together, 331 volunteers participated in 20 Mountain Day of Service projects at 13 locations including Feeding Avery Families, Avery County Humane Society, Children’s Hope Alliance, the Mill Pond, Grandfather Mountain and many more.

“[Lees-McRae College founder] Rev. Edgar Tufts instituted Mountain Day in the early years of the college,” said Professor and Director of the Stephenson Center for Appalachia, Michael Joslin. “Service to the community is an integral part of his legacy to us. Service becomes fun when performed in the magnificent mountains where we study, work and play.”

Mountain Day of Service committee member and Lees-McRae student Tariana Nguyen said, “For me, working side-by-side with my fellow peers, staff and faculty energizes me to continue giving back to the community all year round. To see the projects we were able to accomplish because we worked together is inspiring.”

Take a look below at images from Wednesday’s Mountain Day of Service, and experience the difference Lees-McRae students, faculty, staff and alumni made together.

Banner Elk Park

Students work together to clean branches and litter from the Banner Elk Town Park walkways, fields and steams.

Black trash bags in hand, students leap from rock to rock cleaning debris and trash from the Elk River Mill Pond. Further down the river at the Elk Valley Preserve and Field Station, volunteers work together to remove trash from the river and its surrounding banks.

Holston Camp

Much like the day’s fellow projects, volunteers had to work together to get the job done. Students help one another cut back overgrown Rhododendron branches to clear some of the Holston Presbytery Camp and Retreat Center trails.

In nearby Newland, North Carolina, students, faculty and staff work at Feeding Avery Families to fill and stack food boxes to distribute at the end of the month. Creating an assembly line, volunteers place nearly 19 pounds of food into each box before stacking on crates. Together, volunteers filled approximately 550 boxes.

Mt. Calvary Church

With rakes and tools in hand, students clear some of the beds surrounding the Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Banner Elk.

From left to right: Together, students, faculty and staff work to give the Children’s Hope Alliance in Banner Elk a fresh coat of paint in many of its most-used halls. Outside, more students tended to the flower and plant beds surrounding the buildings. With Wildcat Lake as their background, volunteers worked to redistribute sand on the lake’s beach and stain the park’s playground and benches.

Valle Crucis Park

Volunteers put on waders to plant live stakes that help curb ground erosion and remove invasive plants in Valle Crucis Park.


Grandfather Mountain

A day’s work well done. Volunteers head back to the shuttle bus to return to campus after having spent the morning clearing trails surrounding Grandfather Mountain.

Photos courtesy of Dr. Michael Joslin, Arika Brown, Jamie Colon, Mallory Umling, Hannah Cargill, Mary Whiteacre, Nina Mastandrea, Jayne Yocum, Shelby Lollis, Kyndsey Rounds and Seth Lowther.

By Nina MastandreaApril 13, 2018
Campus LifeCommunity