JACKSON, Tenn. – Nov. 4, 2009 – Lindsay Dawkins wasn’t at Union University in 2008 when a tornado destroyed much of the campus. A senior from Dekalb, Miss., she transferred to Union after that significant event. But she has heard the stories of how the local community rallied to Union’s aid in its time of need.
“It is amazing how God has blessed Union with the response that it has gotten from this community,” Dawkins said. “I’ve never been a part of that, where a community has been so closely knit together. It doesn’t matter if it’s a tornado, or a fire, or anything. The community is always there.”
Dawkins was just one of more than 900 students, faculty and staff members who worked on more than 60 community service projects Nov. 4 as part of the seventh annual “Campus and Community: A Day of Remembrance and Service.” Campus and Community day is an opportunity for Union to show its appreciation to the community for its assistance after tornadoes hit the campus Nov. 10, 2002, and Feb. 5, 2008.
Following the storms the Jackson community stepped in and brought food and supplies to the campus, while local residents gave of their time and talents.
Union cancels most classes on this day each year to allow the university community to participate in projects at such places as local schools, nursing homes and social organizations.
The day began with a chapel service that included a time of singing and a devotional by Richard Wells, dean of the chapel, who spoke to students about importance of living sacrificially.
“The greatest joy we find in giving away all that we have and all that we are,” Wells said.
Dawkins was part of a team of Phi Theta Kappa members who worked at Liberty Garden in Jackson with volunteers from Keep Jackson Beautiful. The students spread mulch around trees and picked up trash.
“This is a time when we can give back, and as an organization we wanted to do that,” Dawkins said. “Keep Jackson Beautiful is dear to my heart, and it’s very close to our group, too. We do not like litter. We like to keep things beautiful.”
History professor Keith Bates was part of a group that included 25 history students and five history professors who worked at Green Frog village near Alamo, Tenn. The Union contingent worked to build an outhouse and a representation of a log cabin.
“Green Frog’s trying to recreate a rural farm community,” Bates said. “They’re trying to bring some of the 19th century elements to it.”
He said the project not only helped Green Frog in its goals, but provided historical education to the students as well.
At the Star Center in Jackson, an organization that works with children and adults with disabilities, Union students made telephone calls to local restaurants asking if they were hiring dishwashers or busboys. The Star Center uses that information to help place its clients in jobs they are capable of filling.
“It seemed like an excellent opportunity to really give back to our community,” said Claire Elmblad, a junior from Tampa, Fla. “They do provide us with a lot of help. It’s so good to be able to be the hands and feet of Christ to these people, to show them that we want to serve them, too.”
Cristalynne Dupree, the Americorps VISTA volunteer coordinator at the Star Center, said the help from the Union students was invaluable.
“It is a great help, because it allows the therapists here at the Star Center to be able to maximize their time with the many other duties they have,” Dupree said. “Non-profits have so much broad focus that it can be difficult at times to grasp so much. So when you do have a helping hand that’s willing to be there, that’s a great service.”