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Carson-Newman students spend spring break helping Chattanooga ministry

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Carson-Newman student Maranda Vandergriff, right, helps Austin, a Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home resident with his Algebra homework. Vandergriff was one of some 170 Carson-Newman volunteers who spent spring break in service projects.

Carson-Newman student Maranda Vandergriff, right, helps Austin, a Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home resident with his Algebra homework.

(March 26, 2014)– Some 170 Carson-Newman University volunteers spent their spring break in service projects from Tennessee to Guatemala. The outreach trips took place the week of March 16.

One of the site included Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home in Chattanooga, where students helped with landscaping needs, and ministered to children at the facility.

“This week we’ve been working around the (Children’s Home) campus doing service projects–moving brush, mulching and pulling weeds,” shared Maranda Vandergriff, a Carson-Newman freshman from Powell, Tenn., majoring in graphic design. “In the afternoons, we’ve been having dinner with them (children). We help with homework and…hang out with the kids and spend time with them.”

Vandergriff said the experience opened her eyes to the important role that the Chattanooga ministry plays.

“It is really amazing to see what the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home does,” said Vandergriff. “Raising up these kids, not only taking them in and taking care of them, but also teaching them about Christianity and about God and raising them up in a Christian atmosphere and family.”

Kathy Hall, a house parent at the children’s home, shared how such volunteer groups contribute to the ministry.

“Groups like Carson-Newman are a terrific blessing to us,” said Hall, who championed not only the team’s children-focused activities, but also the manual labor they provided. “We’re a campus of 75 acres with a lot of buildings, and a lot of things need to be done. They have been out there working their hearts out,” explained Hall. “We don’t have a big maintenance group anymore, so they have really filled in.”

Associate Director of Campus Ministries Chad Morris said that such outreach trips play a meaningful role in students’ growth.

“These trips are instrumental in the student’s faith development,” said Morris. “It becomes less of a one-time service project and more of a catalyst for a lifestyle of service.” Morris says the connection that often happens can be life changing. “It is not just about going and serving someone in need,” said Morris. “It affects those serving as well.”

During the week, Carson-Newman volunteers comprised 11 teams that journeyed to six states and two international countries. Along with Chattanooga, service sites included a backpack youth ministry in Robbinsville, N.C.; youth and children’s ministry in Manchester, Ky., and Greenville, S.C.; a collegiate ministry called Beach Reach in Panama City, Fla.; and inner-city homeless ministries in Knoxville and Philadelphia, Pa. International service sites included Guatemala and the Dominican Republic.

In May, Carson-Newman volunteers will take part in additional international ministry when a team travels to Haiti to assist with medical clinics in local villages.

Click here to see how a Carson-Newman SPOTS team caught the attention of Knoxville's WBIR Channel-10.

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