Huntington University team to volunteer in Chicago for Urban Plunge

HUNTINGTON, IN Visitors to Chicago typically try to take in the sights of Navy Pier or Lake Michigan, but a group of Huntington University students plan to give back instead.

Students, through the Joe Mertz Center for Volunteer Service at HU, will volunteer in inner-city Chicago Nov. 11-13 for the annual service project, Urban Plunge.

The team plans to travel to Chicago and to minister and to volunteer with organizations such as Emmaus Ministries and Cornerstone Community Outreach. They also will volunteer with a Youth for Christ branch in the area.

Students participating in the 2011 Urban Plunge include Monica Salvo of Deerfield, Wis.; Joann Eteshola of Gahanna, Ohio; Gaynel Mullings of Malvern, Jamaica; Megan Fomley of Huntington, Ind.; Catherine Rinchak of Chesterton, Ind.; Catherine Esch of Huntington, Ind.; Laura Olen of Elyria, Ohio; Lauren Powers of Lansing, Ill.; Michelle Embree of Butler, Ind.; Shaina Maxwell of Croswell, Mich.; Megan Storch of Fort Wayne, Ind.; and Rosa Cruz of San Antonio, Texas.

"I went on this trip last year," Salvo said. "We went to a soup kitchen to serve last year. It was the most organized soup kitchen I had ever seen. It was truly amazing to see how their organization allowed them to serve more individuals in need of food."

Salvo, a student leader and coordinator with the Joe Mertz Center, hopes students participating in the trip will see the needs of the people in Chicago.

"I think mission trips are important to give people a glimpse of a different culture," she said. "I think mission trips change those who go on them far more than those who we serve through them. I think it can help participants have a clearer idea of what matters in life."

HU's Joe Mertz Center is a student-directed organization that mobilizes the campus community for Christian service. The Joe Mertz Center involves students in the local community, instills a lifelong tendency toward service and promotes the idea that one person can make a difference.