A service mindset: How Centre students helped fill a need in the Danville community

by Matt Overing

Centre College News
Students standing at car with open trunk showing collected food from APO food drive to benefit the New Hope Food Pantry

Students tackled a community issue — with help from Centre's Office of Civic and Community Engagement.

Service is a staple of the Centre College community.

Led by the Office of Civic and Community Engagement (OCCE), the College has an expansive network of service-minded groups, collaborating together in support of organizations from the local to international level.

CentreTerm provided the opportunity for one of those groups to fill a need in the Danville community: Alpha Phi Omega (APO), a service-oriented coed fraternity, held a food drive and gathered more than 200 items to donate to New Hope Food Pantry.

“APO strives to help people, any type of way,” said Francisco Lacson, class of 2025.

Lacson, a Virginia Beach native and computer science and business double major, said that APO is a great way for students to get integrated into the Centre and local community.

“I volunteered a lot in high school. As a first-generation student, I got to college and didn’t know a lot of things —it’s a whole new environment,” Lacson said. “I found APO during Centre Expo, and the opportunities to serve the community here helped me get involved.”

Lacson is now the president of Centre’s APO chapter. He works closely with Nathan Whitlock, the OCCE assistant director, and reached out about the food drive during CentreTerm.

“Our team genuinely enjoys working with groups like APO, because they take action on community issues,” Whitlock said. “In this case, APO saw a need for food donations at local pantries and didn't hesitate to reach out to us.”

Beyond integration into the community, Lacson noted that service helps students network outside of the College.

“It’s not specific to just Centre students —APO is a worldwide organization. And service is a great opportunity to meet people and help those in need,” he said. “Through serving so many communities, I’ve met incredible people who are resourceful and full of wisdom.”

Whitlock and Lacson agreed that the food drive was a success during a time of need: Danville faced extreme cold during CentreTerm as APO gathered items to help those with food insecurity.

“The success of this food drive goes to show how Centre students are able to take a big idea and make it happen,” Whitlock said. “When Francisco came to discuss food drive logistics and strategies, I was impressed by the goals he had set for the initiative. When he reported the final total of donated items, I wasn't surprised.

“APO has been an exceptional partner to the Office of Civic & Community Engagement in leading our campus in service to others,” he continued. “We are proud to know and work with so many students, like the members of APO, who make service a big part of their Centre experience.”

Lacson said students interested in joining APO can reach out to him directly — the fraternity has more service events planned for the spring semester.

Student organizations who want to organize a donation drive or coordinate a group service project can contact communityengagement@centre.edu. The Office of Civic & Community Engagement is available to help students become involved in the community. 

 Pictured above: Senior Ben Justice (l) and junior Francisco Lacson (r) collect APO food drive donations for the New Hope Food Pantry.