It's an early Saturday morning on Sept. 13, and Elon's service learning community isn't sleeping in.

The group from Virginia Hall's first floor is up early to lend a hand at the Kopper Top Life Learning Center in Liberty, N.C.

The farm for horses, cats, dogs, goats, bunnies and chickens opened 24 years ago with just three horses, and has provided a safe place for disabled children and adults to interact with animals in a form of interactive therapy ever since.

With more than 30 horses today, the farm is an opportunity for clients to get a true hands-on experience.

"It's actually amazing to see all these people come down, work on the horses, grooming them," said Elizabeth Canto, first year student. "They're able to do great things and overcome all those obstacles."

Elon students helped tack up and groom the horses, shovel manure and assist the riders during their lesson.

For first year Emily Freeman, the service learning community is worth the early mornings.

"Getting up early on Saturdays is difficult, but it's so great," Freeman said."I love the projects we've done so far."

The trip to Kopper Top was just one in a series of service trips the learning community will take over the course of the semester. Each month has a specific theme that denotes what kind of service the group will do.

September focuses on the environment, as the group volunteered at Peacehaven Community Farm last week. Next month's theme is social justice.

The group spends time before each trip learning about the organization, its work, and what they hope to take away from that day's project. Afterward, they reflect on what they learned and how they can help further in the future.

For some, the sense of community and belonging made coming to Elon a seamless transition.

"What made me want to learn about the service learning community was the fact that we all lived together," Freeman said. "I thought that'd be a really good group of friends to have. Just like-minded, service-oriented people"