JACKSON, Tenn. – Nov. 6, 2013 – Nearly 1,000 Union University faculty, staff and students worked on 65 community service projects Nov. 5 to commemorate the 11th annual “Campus and Community: A Day of Remembrance and Service.”
Union received an abundance of community support after the 2002 and 2008 tornadoes hit the Jackson campus, said Todd Brady, the vice president for university ministries. As a result, Campus and Community Day was established to give Union an opportunity to express its appreciation.
“There is power in remembering,” Brady said. “We go out today to embrace the community that has embraced us.”
Most classes were cancelled on this day to allow the university community to serve in a variety of projects, ranging from building ramps for disabled Jackson residents to playing bingo with patients at a local nursing and rehabilitation center. Many campus organizations were assigned to specific projects at schools, churches, apartment complexes and non-profit organizations.
“God calls us to serve the poor, to serve the needy, and I’m just doing what God told me to do,” said Luke Pennington, a junior digital media studies major. “We’re not just Union students. We’re members of the Jackson community, and we need to make sure we serve.”
Pennington’s team worked at Alexander Elementary School, where the group trimmed hedges, assisted in the library and cleaned the playground and flower beds. Taylor Worley, the associate dean for university ministries, led the team.
“Campus and Community Day helps connect students on the Union campus to what’s happening in the community,” said Worley, adding that his team is preparing to travel to New York City in the spring for a Global Opportunities Trip. “This is my neighborhood, so I wanted to bring the group here to show them my community.”
Another team was able to make a global impact through a service project held on campus for Operation Christmas Child, a branch of Samaritan’s Purse that supplies Christmas gifts across the world for children in need. The team stuffed boxes with toys, school supplies and hand-written notes for the children.
Elizabeth Oakes, a senior public relations major who has served with Operation Christmas Child for several years, said she volunteered in order to contribute not only to the Jackson community but also to the world.
“I know all the students at Union now did not go through the tornadoes, but we all know that it happened,” Oakes said. “It is important to remember where we came from and to give back.”
By Beth Knoll