By Sarah Holland
Ask any student at the College about their favorite employee at Eickhoff Hall and they’ll more than likely respond with enthusiastic praises for Big Larry or Eve, two of the most animated ID swipers.
Whether Team Larry or Team Eve, anyone would agree that the reason for the popularity of these beloved workers is their friendliness. Waiting in a slow-moving line that trails all the way out the door of the dining hall becomes totally worthwhile after getting a high five from Big Larry or a cheerful grin from Eve.
“When Big Larry says ‘hi’ to me, it makes my day,” freshman special education and Spanish dual major Jenna Finnis said.
Her fellow students were passionately in agreement.
“Eve is an angel,” freshman open options humanities and social sciences major Megan Vantslot said.
One sincere greeting from a pleasant Eick worker is enough to make a student’s day. But what students may often forget is that it’s a two-way street. They don’t consider that their own greetings could have the same effect, potentially making an employee’s day with just one friendly conversation.
That’s why dozens of students participate in Siked for Eick, a program in which volunteers help clean the dining hall at closing time and chat with the employees. With the extra help, the cleaning gets done faster and the employees are able to go home earlier. As the volunteers eagerly return week after week, they become more familiar with the dining hall staff and eventually form lasting relationships with them.
Junior biomedical engineering majors Adriana Chisholm and Anasha Green have been volunteering at Siked for Eick since its formation two years ago. Chisholm recalls talking with Green their freshman year, before the program was created, about how kind the dining hall workers are and wanting to do something in return for their hard work.
Unbeknownst to the girls, another student on campus had the same desire. Yohan Perera, Class of 2013, proposed the idea of an Eick outreach ministry within the College’s InterVarsity chapter, New Jersey Christian Fellowship (NJCF). Perera was a leader in the fellowship. Chisholm and Green were thrilled.
Already active members of NJCF, the two best friends saw Siked for Eick as an opportunity to serve the people who work so hard to serve the students each day. They eagerly participated every single week.
“We loved it so much,” Chisholm said.
Chisholm said that her and Green’s involvement started as cleaning tables, but eventually it became “more than just cleaning, and (they) got to know the workers behind the counters.”
The following semester, the ministry was in need of a new leader. Since Chisholm and Green were so involved, they were jointly asked to helm the program. Now as a junior, Chisholm leads the ministry on her own, gathering the eager volunteers on the second-floor Eickhoff lounge every Wednesday night at 8:30 p.m. for conversation and prayer before heading into the dining hall.
Since its inception, the ministry has grown tremendously. Volunteers include students who are already members of NJCF, but also “random people who saw us cleaning and wanted to join,” Chisholm said.
Not only has the Wednesday night group grown from five or six to 10 or 15 regular volunteers, but also other groups on campus got involved. Now, there are students doing Eick cleanup four nights a week, each night organized by a different on-campus group.
“It was really great to see it get this big all of a sudden,” Chisholm said. “Being able to collaborate is really cool.”
But Chisholm strives to make NJCF’s involvement in the program unique among all the groups.
“We want to stand out apart from the group, by doing things like praying and making cards for the workers,” she said.
These acts of kindness are part of furthering Chisholm’s mission for the ministry.
“The purpose is not only to show appreciation through cleaning and giving back, but also show Christ’s love by being in relationships with (the dining hall staff) and having conversations with them,” she said.
Now, when Chisholm gets meals at Eick throughout the week, she’s able to relate to the workers on a personal level.
“It was cool to go from barely knowing the workers to knowing all of them by name,” she said.
Chisholm has advice for students at the College looking to show appreciation to the Eick workers.
“Ask them about their day, and it turns into a 20-minute conversation — ask them about their families and their kids, (and) they really appreciate someone caring about them,” Chisholm said. “Saying ‘hi’ with a big smile makes a difference. They notice that.”