WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - To fix the problem of those stubborn leaves that invariably fall, Wesley Foundation has spearheaded a service project called Winterization Planning Crew for the past seven years. The aim is to gather Christian students from all of Purdue's various religious groups wanting to spread God's love to the community's elderly and disabled residents as they help them prepare their homes for winter.

The volunteer crew began working months before its service day on Nov. 15. The group included leaders from the Baptist Student Foundation, Campus House, Alpha Phi Omega and Boiler Volunteer Network meeting weekly and putting in other time making phone calls and doing leg work. This, the seventh annual Winterization, crew members thought they knew what to expect in groundwork for this mega-service project.

One of the aspects of Winterization that they all expected was for it to grow in scope from its already impressive volunteer numbers seen the previous year. They were right. For Winterization 2007, the Wesley Foundation building was filled to capacity with 234 volunteers, and this year they had 260 pre-registered. So they knew they would need much more donated food. They also knew they had to move to larger location next door for registration.

The one thing they didn't plan for and didn't expect was bad weather. They spent Friday night worrying about the forecast for a windy mix of rain and snow.

Surprise. The next morning their ranks swelled to 305 volunteers. All these volunteers braved the 38-degree drizzle to service 97 homes in a little under four hours of intense work.

The residents living within each home were greeted by groups of students who wanted nothing better to do with their Saturday morning than to help others. This inspired residents to say things such as, "You students, each one of you, are a blessing to me and the community."

Following the Winterization, many students confidently said they would be back next year, as one student said, "To bless others and be blessed in return."

*Wesley Foundation is a campus ministry offered through The United Methodist Church in North Indiana. It's primarily a ministry for and by students, serving them and helping them to grow in faith and Christian leadership.