“It’s very easy to fall into the picture-perfect habits of being a student at Harding,” senior Kaleigh Evans said. “You go to Caring and Sharing and you see life there. You see people coming from all different phases of life, and you realize that everything is not picture-perfect … It’s going to show you the depth of White County in almost every facet.”
Evans served as this school year’s director of the children’s class during Caring and Sharing, a College Church of Christ outreach that serves families in White County on Mondays from 6-8 p.m. with dinner and devotionals.
“I can’t really put into words how much Caring and Sharing has shaped me into who I am,” Evans said. “It’s like there’s a part of my heart that was closed off until I fell into the arms of Caring and Sharing, and I just would be lost without (the kids).”
Dr. David Bangs, chair of graduate studies, said he and Dr. Eddie Cloer, professor of Bible, began Caring and Sharing approximately eight years ago. Bangs said the program began with several community members, including himself and Cloer, eating sandwiches and studying the Bible. According to Bangs, approximately 250 people currently attend Caring and Sharing, and approximately 200 baptisms have taken place as a result.
“(Caring and Sharing) provides an avenue for members of the church to make connections with people in the community and build relationships with people in the community to ultimately enable the church to truly teach in a one-to-one Bible study fashion,” Bangs said.
Sophomore Wesley Hargon, who became involved with the program last summer, said he has developed relationships with the children who attend through teaching Bible classes and being chased on the playground.
“I feel like (the kids) can relate with me because they just think I’m a big kid,” Hargon said. “(I want to) share with them what it means to be a follower of Christ and be a good example in their lives because many of these kids don’t have that good example.”
Sophomore Caylee Hope volunteers regularly at Caring and Sharing and runs the nursery. She said she first started working with the program when she stayed in Searcy last summer and has developed close relationships with the children who attend.
“There’s one boy there who — every time (they get a dessert after dinner) — he always wraps it up and says he’s going to give it to his mother,” Hope said. “That’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen.”
Hope said most student volunteers come once or twice during the year without returning, and she said this hinders connections between students and the children in the community.
“I’ve learned that a lot of people, when they go to Caring and Sharing, think you have to fit it in into your schedule, (and it seems like) a large chunk of your evening,” Hope said. “If you just plan for it and make it part of your routine, then it becomes the easiest thing in the world.”
Hope and Hargon said they plan to co-lead the children’s Caring and Sharing classes in the fall, but volunteers are needed during the summer.
“There’s some kids that go through some crazy stuff that you wouldn’t believe,” sophomore Wesley Hargon said. “I think that’s a good reason why we’re there (at Caring and Sharing) — to just help them out for a little bit — even if it is just for one day and just two hours at a time.”