Y-Serve finds ways to serve in a pandemic

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Student writes a letter to the Primary Children’s hospital. Y-Serve is focusing on individual service and transforming their programs to adjust to the pandemic. (Addie Blacker)

Y-Serve leadership is focusing on individual service and outreach while also transforming their programs at a time when service opportunities are limited.

All traditional Y-Serve programs are temporarily on hold to comply with BYU’s COVID-19 procedures, according to the Y-Serve website. However, Y-Serve can help students find safe and informal opportunities to serve individually, director Chris Crippen said.

Students can use JustServe for service ideas and Family Search for worldwide indexing projects, according to the website.

One way Y-Serve is encouraging service is through social media. Y-Serve Marketing Director Alli Stone said her team is working on a campaign called “Why I Serve.” This will give students the opportunity to share the ways they serve others.

“It’s a lot of outreach — trying to connect with people,” she said. “It’s kind of tricky in virtual settings.”

“This environment has caused us to look outside of the formal service structure and find ways that we can more organically reach out and lift on a more individual, and often remote basis,” Crippen said.

He discussed the story in the New Testament of the woman anointing the Savior with expensive ointment. In this story, the disciples said the woman was being wasteful. The Savior responded and said, “She hath done what she could” (Mark 14:6,8).

Crippen applied this to finding ways to serve during the pandemic and seeing what Y-Serve can do, despite the circumstances. “Our role at Y-Serve right now is inspiring service,” he said.

Some Y-Serve programs are up and running with precautions. There are over 70 different service programs, Y-Serve Service Council president Sam Halterman said.

Student leaders are “working tirelessly” and creating proposals to make these programs work with pandemic restrictions, he said. “It has been one shoot down after another.”

One Y-Serve program coming up is Share Your Hair. During this event, individuals can donate their hair and have it cut by a Studio 1030 stylist. The hair is donated to Children with Hair Loss, an organization that makes wigs for children with medically-related hair loss.

Share Your Hair is normally a two-day event held in the Wilkinson Center Terrace each semester, according to its website. Share Your Hair Executive Director Allyse Jorgensen said to adjust for the pandemic instead of having an in-person event, they are distributing coupons for free haircuts at Studio 1030. 

Haircuts will be free if someone donates at least eight inches, she said.

The coupons will be valid from Oct. 19 to Nov. 13. More information and sign-ups will be available online. Share Your Hair is also on Facebook.

Another way BYU students can serve is through tutoring. BYU Tutoring Services is up and running again and will be conducted remotely, Crippen said.

When students go to the tutoring website, they can choose the class they’re struggling with and the website will match them with available tutors. Students can also apply to be a volunteer tutor.

Halterman said he feels there will be a bigger need for tutoring now that students have a lot less support and connection than usual.

“I think people are aching to serve and a lot of people are in need of service now more than ever,” Halterman said. 

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