by Maci Sepp
Whether we admit it or not, February is always a time when love is in the air. Romantics and cynics alike bear the burden of the Valentine’s Day season, from decades-long anniversaries to angst-filled first dates. This February was no different. Roses were still purchased, chocolates were still exchanged, and hand-written poems still oozed with cheese. The checklist often ends here. Perhaps there’s more to Valentine’s Day than loving only the ones nearest and dearest to us. Maybe the love that floats frivolously within our atmosphere is also meant to be shared with those who need it most.
During the past three years, Greenville College Student Association (GCSA) has hosted an event called Swing, an annual fundraiser for the college and surrounding community to enjoy. The evening typically consists of a formal three-course meal, a silent auction, a photobooth, and, of course, swing dancing lessons. This year did not disappoint. Over the short span of a few hours, the GC Dining Commons was once again transformed from a crowded cafeteria to an elegant catered venue. The tables were adorned with lavender napkins and covered with white rose petals, while colorful balloons floated above the dance floor. Plates overflowed with tasty ingredients and the savory warm scents filled the entire room. The dance moves ranged from mesmerizing twirls to daring lifts. A steady hum of live classical and jazz music could be heard in the background as guests danced late into the night.
Swing quickly became a huge hit. Singles and couples alike who attended Swing continued to recall numerous moments of joy and excitement weeks after the event had come to pass. The question then becomes this: what exactly does a night of dining and dancing have to do with spreading “frivolous” love?
Above anything else, Swing was a fundraiser. The event combined the efforts of GCSA’s Campus Activities and Student Outreach Boards. Not only was Swing filled with a little bit of romance and loads of fun; it also promoted the awareness of human trafficking and supported the mission of Eden’s Glory. Each year, GCSA uses Swing to raise money for a local cause or organization. In the past, proceeds have gone to the Simple Room right here in Greenville and Covenant House in St. Louis. All proceeds from this year’s event went towards Eden’s Glory, which is a local Christian residential treatment program for young women who are survivors of human trafficking. More than 100 students, faculty, and community members came together to attend the event, each paying a small admission cost that went toward Eden’s Glory. By the end of the night, Swing raised more than $400, and produced dozens of kindred spirits.
Overall, Swing was an immense success. The desserts were sweet and the dance moves were even sweeter. Only with the GCSA team and the numerous volunteers was the event possible. It’s no secret that GCSA is notorious for throwing the best parties and hosting the best events on campus. It’s also no secret that Swing is something special. Swing combines the efforts of event planning and the desire to serve. Sure, Swing may simply be an easy Valentine’s Day date for some, but it also proves how easy it can be to give to those who are desperate for love. Swing has the power to reorient our hearts and minds to what it truly means to love the neighbor, the stranger, and the marginalized. Maybe these types of events give us a chance to try something new. Maybe they provide us with more opportunities to love ourselves as well as serve others. Or maybe — just maybe — they invite us to go beyond attending and donating a few times a year and inspire us to step out of our comfort zones to live out the kind of love that is hospitable, generous, and sincere. Romantic or not, we can all find an appreciation for this kind of love in the air.