JACKSON, Tenn. – May 7, 2003– There are no sodas or snacks being sold from what once was a convenience store on the corner of East Chester and Cartmell, but the Union grad organizing a relief effort from the parking lot is helping make sure residents have food and water. Julie Boyer spent May 6 coordinating the efforts of dozens of Union students with a desire to assist the residents of the East Jackson neighborhood hit hardest by Sunday night’s tornado.
A member of Union’s Class of 2001, Boyer is now the student outreach minister at Jackson’s Evangelical Community Church where she runs a tutoring program for urban youth. After the tornado, she contacted some of her students, then came downtown to help meet needs in their neighborhoods.
According to Boyer, several elderly East Jackson residents are without transportation and simply cannot walk the mile or more from their homes to a shelter. Others are staying to protect what is left of their belongings, she said.
On Tuesday, students began packing sack lunches at Union’s McAfee Commons about 7:30 a.m. Hundreds of lunches and bottles of water were packed and taken to the East Jackson residents who were without power or clean water as a result of the tornado. Union’s Campus Ministries shuttled volunteers on university vans throughout the day, with a new crew arriving every hour.
Walking through East Jackson, students encountered homes without roofs, downed trees and smashed vehicles. Area resident Betty Haynes said she and her three sons spent Sunday night in their hallway with a mattress over them for protection.
“One day you have everything you need, and the next day it’s all gone,” said freshman Shaundra Bloomberg after seeing the destruction.
“There’s still a sense of panic here,” said Jay Ridenour, Union’s director of discipleship ministries, “but there is also a sense of community.”
Liddon Street resident Ronald Pettis was grateful for the food and water. “I sure appreciate it. This has been rough, and every little bit helps,” he said. “I just thank God we’re living.”
Relief efforts will continue throughout the coming days and weeks. For more information on how to get involved, call Jackson’s volunteer line at (731) 425-8332 or contact Union’s campus ministries office at (731) 661-5062.