By Katie Shatzer & Alicia Stauffer
For the seventh year running, Union students, faculty and staff took a respite from classes on Nov. 4 to serve the Jackson community.
Campus and Community: A Day of Remembrance and Service is an event held each November to thank the community for their support of Union following the tornadoes of 2002, 2003 and 2008.
This year, nearly 850 people volunteered to complete more than 50 service projects in and around Jackson. Karen Taylor, assistant director of student leadership development and student programs, organizes the event each year.
“There is a spirit among our students of service,” Taylor said. “Students that were here during the tornado and those who weren’t (have this spirit). Our students really want to serve.”
Taylor said the planning for the day begins in September. Each year, Taylor said she sends letters to churches and social organizations in the community offering help.
Many students and groups come up with their own ideas for service projects. Taylor said students began to approach her during the first few weeks of school wanting to organize projects.
“There is excitement over the day,” Taylor said. “I wasn’t having to wait on them, they were having to wait on me.”
Faculty in several academic departments at Union organize and lead groups of students in a service project related to their discipline.
Dr. Stephen Carls, university professor of history and department chair, organizes a project each year for members of Phi Beta Alpha and the Rutledge Honorary History Club, two groups within the History Department at Union.
The group works on a service project in the morning, then participates in a historical experience in the afternoon.
“We are introducing students to important historic sites in West Tennessee, while giving them an opportunity to serve,” Carls said.
This year, the group spent the day at historical Green Frog Village, which is located east of Jackson on Highway 412.
The History Department spent the morning in two groups. One group constructed a small log cabin, and the other built an outhouse mirrored after the structures commissioned by the Works Progress Administration of the Great Depression-era.
“It’s a nice day and we’re having fun putting together an outhouse,” said Kevin Reid, junior history major. “It’s a learning experience.”
Members of the education department also took advantage of the day to serve in an area related to their discipline. Students and faculty donated about two hours to read books to the children or lead activities for them.
Ann Singleton, associate dean of education in the College of Education and Human Studies and professor of special education, said this project is a reminder of “why I do what I do, and it reminds me of the importance of educating all children.”
They also provided 8–12 books for each classroom they visited, totaling nearly 500 books, which were provided by donations.
“Anytime Union can give back to the community, we need to take the opportunity to do that because the community has supported Union in such tragic, difficult times, but also in the good times,” said Dottie Myatt, assistant dean for teacher education and accreditation and project participant. “Union is such an integral part of the Jackson community.”