Volunteers prepare strings for fall’s ‘Light the Way’



Volunteers repaired strands of broken Christmas lights Sept. 4 and Sept. 21 in Marian Hall Ballroom for the 2013 “Light the Way” ceremony at the University of the Incarnate Word.

In a room full of upbeat music and piles of Christmas lights, student volunteers wrote their names on a sign-in sheet to receive community service hours required for graduation.

Pizza, cookies and iced tea were provided, as well as a multitude of other snacks. At work stations in the ballroom, volunteers took a pair of pliers and gardening gloves, took a string of lights and began repairs on strands. Every table had boxes of new bulbs to ensure ease of replacement. Once a string was fully fixed, volunteers placed it in the “completed strand” pile.

In addition to service hours and pizza, door prizes were given to volunteers who correctly answered Incarnate Word-related trivia throughout the workday event. These incentives were given to draw students and faculty into the workday. However, the community service hours and prizes weren’t what enticed freshman Rosalee Espericueta.

“I saw ‘Light the Way’ for the first time when my aunt worked at Incarnate Word,” Espericueta said. “I was 12 and I thought it was the coolest thing. When I heard that UIW was calling for volunteers, I wanted to come and be a part of setting it all up.”

Similarly, Dr. Trey Guinn, a new assistant professor in the Department of Communication Arts, came to be a part of the bigger picture.

“Some of me and my wife’s first dates were here at UIW seeing the lights at ‘Light the Way,’ ” said Guinn, who teaches speech courses.  “So that’s why I’m here — to bring things full-circle.”

Along with countless volunteers, there were four student workers who helped keep the workday running smoothly.

“Honestly, I’m here because this is my job,” said Erik Esparza, one of the student workers. “But if it weren’t, I think I’d be here anyway. It’s a great bonding experience for our community.”

Kayla Rice, special events coordinator for UIW’s Office of Public Relations, was responsible for organizing the workdays. Rice said students and members of the community participate in the workday to “be a part of the bigger event in November.”

“With service being a big pillar of the university, I think students, faculty, and staff have a large passion for giving back,” Rice said.

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The annual “Light the Way” holiday kickoff ceremony will be 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, in Gayle and Tom Benson Stadium.

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