JACKSON — On a typical Tuesday at Union University students can be seen studying, attending classes and participating in on-campus jobs or extracurricular activities. But on this particular Tuesday, Union students were instead doing yard work across town, helping with administrative tasks at local nonprofits and painting elementary school classrooms.
Union University on Oct. 31 participated in its 21st annual Campus and Community Day, a day to commemorate God’s provision during the 2002, 2003 and 2008 tornadoes while also reaching out to the Jackson community. Students, faculty and staff completed dozens of service projects across Jackson throughout the day.
For junior biblical studies major Michael Tankersley, serving at West Jackson Baptist Church was a way to connect with others in his academic department while also meeting the tangible needs of the church.
“The church has needs, and a lot of times the needs we see are ‘The church needs money’ or ‘The church needs leaders to rise up,’” Tankersley said. “But really, this is also a real need that the church has.”.
Tankersley and other School of Theology and Missions students spent the morning maintaining the campus grounds, cleaning a kitchen inside the church and a assembling a bookshelf for West Jackson.
For Emily Turner, a senior political science major and vice president of Union’s Life 139 Club, preparing donor support letters at Birth Choice was a way to serve the crisis pregnancy clinic so Birth Choice has more time to dedicate to clients.
“Birth Choice does a lot for the community,” Turner said. “They have mostly volunteers and some staff, so we do whatever we can to take the office work off their hands.”
For Turner and other members of Life 139, spending the morning mailing support letters at Birth Choice was a way for the club to live out its values.
“Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade our focus has kind of shifted a little bit in that we want to make sure that mothers know that they’re supported,” she said. “We can do this by coming to Birth Choice because that’s their entire goal. That’s what they’re doing on a day-to-day basis.”
Tiffany Dawson, Birth Choice’s director of development, said the efforts of Union volunteers allowed the staff to focus their attention on other responsibilities, knowing that administrative tasks were being completed.
“Volunteer work is such a huge part of our ministry,” Dawson said. “Having people to stuff the envelopes, it’s not just ‘Oh, I’m doing this nice thing for Birth Choice.’ It’s really helping us share the gospel.”
Union’s Campus and Community Day allows students to connect with others while making an impact on the broader Jackson community.
“It’s in the mission statement, to be of service to church and society,” Tankersley said. “Well, here’s a service to church right here. If I am going to be a Union student, I might as well participate in the mission that Union has.” B&R