Student organizations are Steppin’ Out into Waco community Saturday

Steppin' Out is a day of service in the Waco community. Photo courtesy of Baylor University.

By Avery Ballmann | Staff Writer

Every semester, student organizations across campus volunteer in the Waco community through Steppin’ Out. This day of service doesn’t happen overnight; preparations begin at the start of each semester. On Saturday, there will be approximately 1,500 volunteers at Steppin’ Out.

Tustin, Calif., senior and Steppin’ Out director Anna Shipcott has been a part of the organization since her freshman year. As director, she oversees a committee and coordinates volunteers and recruitment.

“It’s definitely rewarding to see how far I’ve come in terms of my leadership abilities — knowing how the day of service works, being able to be behind the scenes and helping orchestrate it,” Shipcott said.

Shipcott and her committee also coordinate fundraisers, site-matching for volunteers and distribution of materials. Volunteers typically do gardening, weeding and other projects like painting churches. Shipcott said a lot of the same volunteer sites return to Steppin’ Out each semester, such as Keep Waco Beautiful.

Rockwall senior Kate Avery participated in Steppin’ Out last year with Delta Delta Delta sorority, cleaning up a local prayer garden. Because of that positive experience, she said she became service chair for Women in Business in April.

“Something I really appreciate about service is that when you do projects like this, it’s simultaneously a serving opportunity for you to get out of the Baylor bubble, but also an opportunity for social interaction and to build relationships that you might not have otherwise,” Avery said.

Women in Business is expecting 74 volunteers from its organization to participate in Saturday’s day of service. Steppin’ Out uses site-matching to coordinate the student group with the largest number of volunteers to the site that is in need of the most people.

Shipcott said they have approximately 40 sites they are sending volunteers to. Registration for Steppin’ Out opens a month before the event. If organizations miss the deadline, they are put on a waitlist for the next event. Steppin’ Out also sends an email to students who are leaders of different groups so that they can register as team leaders; then, the link to sign up is open to all students in that organization.

This is the 37th year of Steppin’ Out’s volunteer efforts in Waco. Shipcott said she joined Steppin’ Out because she’s always been very passionate about community service.

“When I moved to Waco from California, everybody here is just so welcoming, inviting,” Shipcott said. “And just because the Baylor/Waco community is so amazing, I wanted to find a way in which I can do my best to give back to them. I’m able to fully do that through serving as the director of Steppin’ Out.”

Avery said Baylor students need to be in the community to see what the world is like outside of their own personal experiences. Women in Business’ mission statement is fueled by faith, which is why it is participating in Steppin’ Out.

“It’s important for us to take a step back and not focus on ourselves, and serve others as Jesus demonstrated while he was on the Earth and the way He served others and loved others,” Avery said. “As Christians, we’re called to love others the same way, and so service events give us a channel to give back in our community.”

The next Steppin’ Out will be in the spring semester, which will be Shipcott’s last event as director and as a student.

“Just over the last four years, I’ve been able to see that tangible impact that our day of service has on the community, and that’s just been super rewarding,” Shipcott said. “It definitely gives me passion to keep pursuing the day of service.”