JACKSON, Tenn. – July 14, 2004– Due to the efforts of organizational leadership students at Union University at least 25 Jackson-area children will receive bicycles and tricycles Thursday evening at the Salvation Army.
Dubbed “Trikes for Tots,” the service project is a new requirement for the seminar in organizational leadership, the capstone course for the LAUNCH degree completion program.
“This is the first attempt at integrating service learning into the program and the first class to complete their service project,” said Barbara Perry, director of the LAUNCH program and chair of the department of continuing studies.
Students are encouraged to initiate an innovative service project rather than participating in an established one. “If it’s a unique project, they have to use skills developed through the program such as project management, resource planning, leadership skills, communication skills, even marketing to some extent,” said Guy DeLoach, instructor for the course.
The class of 17 students developed the idea for Trikes for Tots through a brainstorming session and approached the Salvation Army of Jackson to locate needy children.
Cathy Quinn, captain and core officer at Salvation Army of Jackson, said, “We looked at our client-base for children who are in our programs who we know have a need for bicycles.”
In addition to being matched with bicycles appropriate to their size and age, the children will tour a fire truck and police car, have refreshments and complete an obstacle course. LAUNCH student Susan White coordinated with the City of Jackson fire and police departments to provide activities for the children.
“There were many other helpful groups such as Party Central, Wal-Mart, Cingular Wireless and a few unmentioned,” said Jodie Jernigan, who was one of the project directors.
Cingular Wireless donated a boy’s bicycle; Wal-Mart Super Center and Forest Hill Church of Christ each made monetary donations, and Party Central provided decorations for the event.
“We also have many students in the class that used their own hard earned money,” Jernigan said. Jernigan works as production supervisor for Pierce Distribution in addition to completing her degree in organizational leadership at Union.
The servant leadership model has gained popularity over the past five years, DeLoach said. This approach comes not only from the perspective of Christian values but as a business strategy taught by major universities.
“In most of the large universities like Harvard and Stanford, they don’t go into the fact that this mirrors the teachings of Jesus Christ,” he said. “As students prepare to graduate from Union University, we want them to put into application the servant leadership model which emulates what Christ teaches.”
Jernigan said, “This project has certainly tested our leadership skills; it has also required much planning. This project has brought our class together as one. Considering the different schedules we all have, this would not have been such a great success without great dedication from all.”
Overall, the project’s focus is on the children.
“We’re hoping for a lot of happy kids Thursday night,” DeLoach said. “That’s what it’s really all about is the kids and making a difference in a moment of their lives.”
Jernigan echoed his hopes. “We have gotten great satisfaction from the fact that at least 25 children will have a happier summer,” she said.
“It’s always wonderful working with Union students,” Quinn said. “This was the first time working with the LAUNCH students, but Union students have come and volunteered on other projects, and I’ve always had a wonderful experience. I’m really excited about this. I think it’s going to be a really fun evening for everyone concerned.”
LAUNCH was designed to give working adults a chance to complete their degree in a way that meets their scheduling needs. For more information, contact the department of continuing studies, (731) 661-5472.