Every year, there’s one Pensacola Christian College event that stands out from all the rest: the Missions Run, an evening that brings together a unified crowd with a heart to serve others. Almost everyone wore matching T-shirts in support of the Mission Project, and eager participants showed their enthusiasm by donning glowsticks and visiting face-painting stations before the 5K run began.
As PCC’s 10th Missions Run, an evening of excitement like this has been a familiar experience for students of the last decade. “This event’s consistent return shows that the students have a genuine heart to serve and to help spread the gospel. Over the years, I have seen so many students get creative for how they can share God’s Word with people in need,” said Sydni Kelly (Sr., FL), Student Body secretary. “The student body is always looking for where they are needed, not only in this community but all over the world.”
A Cause Worth Supporting
Throughout the spring semester, students have been collectively giving toward One More Child, an organization that provides Christ-centered services to vulnerable children and struggling families in need. “I’ve been following One More Child’s work for a while, and I’m impressed by their commitment to making a difference in people’s lives,” said Keith Jablonski (Jr., TX).
During a mid-March Student Body Meeting, Mr. Alan Andrews, director of global partnership at One More Child, was invited to share how the organization works to help others. “We have several program areas that we focus on: foster care, anti-trafficking, childcare, family support, and single moms. In each of those program areas, we try to find ways to meet the needs of people with Christ-centered services,” he said. “One thing that I like about our organization is that we’re always trying to find ways to serve one more child. What our organization wants to do is to help [those] that want to help and work with vulnerable families, give them a way to do that, and help them in that process of what God’s called them to do.”
Later that week, students got directly involved in supporting One More Child through the on-campus Meal Packing Party, where volunteers packed family food boxes that each included gospel tracts inside. “When I heard about the Meal Packing Party, I was excited to have the opportunity to help out in a tangible way,” Keith shared. “As someone who believes in the power of community service, I know how important it is to give back and support those who are less fortunate. I thought this event would be a great way to make a meaningful contribution and have fun at the same time.”
At the event, volunteers stationed at side-by-side tables participated in friendly competition to see who could pack more boxes, and whenever a shipping box was completely full of meals, students and One More Child staff would celebrate by cheering and excitedly ringing a cowbell. Micah Weldy (So., MI) and several of his friends volunteered at the event. “Once I got there, the representatives of One More Child got us plugged in immediately. They told each of us what we would be doing and how to do it. Then the fun began!” he shared. “The two hours I helped with the packing was a tremendous experience.” By the end of the day, students were able to pack over 75,000 meals, reaching beyond their projected goal.
Participating in Fundraising Efforts
Students supported the Mission Project by donating toward One More Child in a variety of ways. Donations were gathered through a Valentine’s Flower Fundraiser, a Round-Up (to the next dollar) campaign at on-campus stores, and a Text-to-Give campaign, and by purchasing a themed T-shirt ($10) to wear at the Missions Run.
At the Flower Fundraiser, students anonymously sent flowers to each other for $2, and recipients could pay $1 to discover the sender. Bryan Paul (Sr., NC) volunteered to assist at the event while also sending and receiving flowers himself. “I was able to see the joy and fun from giving flowers to fellow students as well as seeing the blushing or shock on the faces of students when the names [of those] whom the flowers were sent from were revealed,” he said. “It is a joy to see the physical representation of another person caring for you as well as the blessing of giving a flower in the attempt to brighten the other person’s day.”
While the effort was missions-minded, many students were thankful for the mid-semester encouragement. “I got a flower from a dear friend that I didn’t even expect, but it was very nice, and it made my day,” said Yannis Acevedo (Fr., NY). “I think that’s something that we really needed—just sending someone, a friend, maybe a significant other, a flower so that they can be happy.”
The Missions Run
Mission Project initiatives culminated in an anticipated event that brought students together—the Missions Run. “[It] is by far the biggest student-led event of the year,” said Gabe Breau (Jr., NY), Student Body president. “The student body all comes together in unity for fellowship and to support the spread of the gospel around the world.”
“I was part of the Missions Run last year, and I loved it,” said Anna Bickel (So., MI). “It’s so amazing to see the student body come together for the common goal of helping those in need. I look forward to our Mission Projects every year and anticipate what we’re going to do the next year. It definitely makes me feel unified with the student body [more than] any other event here at PCC.”
Runners (and walkers) found their place at the starting line between Dale Horton Auditorium (DHA) and Varsity, and at 11:30 p.m., the race began! Those eager to compete started their 5K trek through the marked trail that was mapped across campus. Some paused about halfway at East Field to take a quick photo with Dr. Dale Adkins, local church ministries coordinator and honorary “on-campus grandpa” among the student body.
Married couple Christina (Graduate Assistant) and Ben (Sr., TN) Cox participated in the Missions Run together and have always enjoyed the grand scale and enduring heart of the event. “There’s a lot of Christian Service groups, and those are amazing—it’s a small group and you get a lot of even closer-knit [groups]—but it’s cool to bring the whole student body together and have that common goal,” Christina said.“And I love that it’s a year-to-year thing, so not only does it bring together the group this year, but it’s a connection with previous years too.”
Throughout the night, students were glad to support the project behind the run. “I really liked the mission of One More Child,” said Hayden Merrick (Fr., AZ). “I think it’s something that definitely needs to be done and isn’t being done adequately. [It was] definitely a good project.”
Altogether, Mission Project efforts raised $33,047.45 for One More Child, offering heartfelt support toward feeding families and sharing the gospel with each. “It is overwhelmingly beautiful to see the genuine serving hearts that this student body has for people in need,” Sydni shared. “PCC’s mission is to promote Christian leaders, and as Christian leaders, it is our job to help people in need. The Mission Project allows us to do that.”