Nursing student Amanda Goggans did her part Monday to propel Palm Beach Atlantic University’s Workship program over the 3 million hour mark — the equivalent of 125,000 consecutive days of service to the community since the University was founded in 1968.

A Palm Beach Atlantic University volunteer gleans peppers from the growing fields at Bedner's Farm in western Boynton Beach on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. The project was organized through CROS Ministries to help feed the hungry. PBA is a private, Christ-centered college in West Palm Beach, Florida, USA.

Taking a break from her studies, Goggans joined a group of PBA volunteers on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday checking expiration dates and sorting nonperishable food into boxes at Feeding South Florida’s warehouse in West Palm Beach. The boxes eventually will go to food pantries, soup kitchens and other distribution points.

Goggans, of Okeechobee, said that she has been the recipient of several scholarships during her time at PBA. “What better way to give back and help the community at the same time,” she said.

More than 300 students, faculty and staff, as well as alumni, family members and friends of PBA, served Palm Beach County residents in a variety of ways on Monday. Projects ranged from painting apartments that house families in need of emergency housing, to gleaning about 9,000 pounds of green peppers from growing fields to feed the hungry, to painting pavilions and clearing walking trails at a local park.

Palm Beach Atlantic University volunteers sort and check the expiration dates on nonperishable foods donated to Feeding South Florida. PBA is a private, Christ-centered college in West Palm Beach, Florida, USA.

Their collective 1,292 hours of service at seven project sites throughout Palm Beach County were enough to help PBA surpass the 3 million hour milestone.

The day began with prayer and worship in the Rubin Arena of the Greene Complex for Sports and Recreation. From there, the volunteers boarded buses to locations in West Palm Beach and Boynton Beach.

The University officially is closed for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. However, since 2001, students have made this a “day on” for service rather than a “day off” from classes.

In addition to the mass service projects, PBA students individually serve the community year round. Undergraduate students volunteer at least 45 hours each academic year at nonprofit agencies, schools and churches.

To accomplish this, the University works with more than 200 community partners, Workship Director Kate Magro said. 

Service gives students the opportunity to become a part of something greater than themselves, Magro said. “That is what the life of Martin Luther King was all about.”

Rochelle Nolan, director of development for Feeding South Florida, said she was grateful for the dozens of volunteers who showed up to assist with the food sorting. The food bank rescues millions of pounds of food that otherwise would go to waste.

Palm Beach Atlantic University alumna Lyndsey Morrell (left) helps a PBA volunteer tend a community garden at Pat Reeves Village, an emergency shelter in West Palm Beach for families with dependent children. PBA is a private, Christ-centered college in West Palm Beach, Florida, USA.

On Monday, PBA volunteers packed enough food to provide 3,000 meals.

“At the end of the day, people are eating because they took the time to come here today,” Nolan said.

A few miles north at Pat Reeves Village, volunteers updated two three-bedroom apartments with a fresh coat of paint. When that task was done, they weeded a community garden on the property.

The apartment complex provides emergency housing for families with dependent children and is operated by the Center for Family Services of Palm Beach County. It is the only program of its kind in the county.

The work day was organized by Lyndsey Morrell, a 2015 PBA graduate who now works for the agency. Morrell, who majored in ministry, began with the Center for Family Services in 2012 as a Workship volunteer. After graduation, she was hired full time.

Out of seven different community organizations served by PBA volunteers on Monday, two of them are staffed by PBA alumni: Morrell and Cassie Clark ’14, who works with youth in the Rosemary Village neighborhood.

Monday’s day of service is the kickoff for a year of activities celebrating the 3 million hour milestone. Currently PBA is at 3,000,687 hours and counting. 

“Reaching 3 million hours is a great accomplishment, but having reached it, we will not stop,” Magro said. “As long as there is need, we will continue serving.”

For more information about Workship, visit www.pba.edu/workship.