Celebrate Gratitude

November 14, 2022

By Katie Bayer, Staff Writer

November 14, 2022

On Wednesday, November 2, the Elrod Center held their third annual “Celebrate Gratitude” event in the middle of campus. The event ran from 9:00am-6:00pm at the Neighbor’s Table. Hundreds of white envelopes lined the tables and benches, each addressed to faculty and staff from all areas on campus. Students filtered into the event in between classes, during lunch, or whenever they had a free moment to sit and write a handwritten note of thanks to one (or several) of the Ouachita staff who make our lives as young scholars possible every day.

“Celebrate Gratitude” began three years ago with a good heart and a great idea. Then-junior Ben Inman approached the Elrod Center, proposing a day to give back to the faculty and staff who give their gifts tirelessly day in and day out. Today, that dream has become a tradition, igniting students’ hearts and brightening professors’ days.

Each year, the Elrod Center selects two student leaders to facilitate the event. This year, sophomore Hannah Matthews and junior John Hunter Crum were chosen. The two set to work collecting and dividing names by department, ordering materials, advertising the event and lining up volunteers. Matthews spoke about how it felt to be a student leader.

“I’m so honored that I even get to help,” Matthews said. “This is the campus doing everything, and I’m just lucky to get to be a part of it. I’m happy that I get to see everybody come by, and everybody is so excited to write letters – it’s been a blessing to me.”

Crum had similar sentiments. “It’s been incredible, especially watching everyone show up and get excited for it,” Crum said. “You see a lot of people come in and they don’t really know what [the event] is. They come sit down, write a few letters, and then start grabbing their friends. It’s really cool to see everyone so passionate to complete the same thing that we’ve been working on for a little bit now.”

Photo by Levi Dade

Student Alison Hernandez was present at the event on Wednesday and shared her thoughts. “It’s very nice to write all these people letters because they do so much for us,” Hernandez said. “Even though they might not get thanks, I think it’s thoughtful of us to write a note. I know that whenever I get a note from someone, it means a lot – I hope that it means a lot to them, too.”

In years past, “Celebrate Gratitude” has been able to see how one small letter can make a big difference. Faculty and staff from all over campus have shared how they have been genuinely touched by students’ kindness.

Director of the Elrod Center Judy Duvall has gotten to see firsthand how much of an impact Ouachita’s student body has. Her desk drawer is stuffed with notes from students showing their appreciation towards her, and as she spoke, a smile broke across her face and her eyes shone with warmth.

“It’s such a big deal when somebody takes the time to specifically say, ‘You’ve made a difference in my life, thank you’,” Duvall said. “When we practice gratitude and thankfulness, it invites joy into our life. I hope and pray that our faculty and staff, as they read these notes, that their hearts would be encouraged, and they would know that they’re making a difference on our campus.” 

As college students, it can be so easy to become bogged down by responsibilities and workloads. “Celebrate Gratitude” is the perfect way to take a step back, give thanks where thanks is due and remind us that it only takes the voice of one to brighten the lives of many.

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