JACKSON, Tenn. – Nov. 6, 2008– Jasmine Pearman’s voice rang out across the room.
The Union sophomore called out the letters and the numbers, and the residents of the Mission Convalescent Home placed the chips on their bingo cards. Interspersed with the home’s residents were members of the Union University group Mosaic, which offers a community for minority students and those from different cultures and backgrounds. They talked and laughed with those living at the home, and gave out candy to the bingo winners.
“We’ve been cleaning wheelchairs, windows, doors and things like that,” said Union senior and Mosaic president Matthew Marshall. “And also just playing games with them and hanging out with the people.”
The Mosaic group was just one of 60 such teams that fanned out over the Jackson community on Nov. 5 for the sixth annual “Campus and Community: A Day of Remembrance and Service.” More than 800 students, faculty and staff participated.
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.
“It’s a way to be able to get out and give back in a way that God wants us to,” said Emily Davis, a junior from Hendersonville, Tenn., where she is a member at First Baptist Church. “We don’t always have the opportunity when we’re busy with classes and other things. I think it’s a good way to serve our community and say thanks for all the help that they’ve done.”
Davis and her team spent the day at Tigrett Middle School in Jackson, painting the front doors and the school’s sign.
Janice Epperson, the principal at Tigrett Middle School, said the work of the Union students was helpful not only for the physical appearance of the school, but also for the impact it has on the middle school students. The school has a Beta Club that stresses community service, and Epperson said the Union volunteers gave the club members an example to follow.
“No matter how old you are or what level of education you have, you can still give back to the community,” she said.
In downtown Jackson, more than 30 Union students spent the day working on a building that will be used as a day shelter for the homeless, as well as the offices of Area Relief Ministries. They painted, scraped and cleaned the building that had fallen into serious disrepair.
“The community gave back to us so much after Feb. 5, and I’ve heard the tornadoes before that,” said Katrina Parker, a senior from Nolensville, Tenn. “So this is just an opportunity to come out to the community and do what they did for us, and serve them with no expectation of getting anything back. I think the Lord calls us to serve in many ways, and this is an opportunity to do that.”
The day began with a 30-minute chapel service, in which Union President David S. Dockery reminded the students of what God had done for the university over the years – most significantly on the night of Feb. 5 and the days following.
“We remember not only the event, but we remember God’s providential care,” Dockery said. “We remember God’s strength to us, his grace, his mercy, his amazing provision in allowing us to be here today, recognizing all that has taken place to bring about rebuilding and recovery and restoration on this campus.”
Dockery said the annual event was established six years ago so that the university could tell those who were not at Union when the tornadoes hit what God had done.
“Today we gather together to remind one another of God’s goodness in days gone by,” he said. “He has indeed brought renewal out rubble across this campus.”