Carson-Newman students spend spring break serving others

Campus News | March 23, 2015

Some 150 Carson-Newman students spent their spring break involved in outreach projects thanks to the University’s SPOTS program. Pictured is a Carson-Newman team who volunteered at a soup kitchen outside of Greenville, South Carolina.

(March 23, 2015) — Spring break trips took on a unique meaning for 150 Carson-Newman University students who spent their time off involved in service projects from Jefferson City to the Dominican Republic earlier this month.

Students split into 10 teams to serve others as part of Campus Ministries SPOTS outreach program. Chad Morris, associate director of Campus Ministries said the trips are a way for students to both show their faith and challenge themselves.

"First and foremost, it allows for our students to live out their faith and it lives out our mission as a school to excel not only academically, but also in Jesus Christ. They’re growing independent and growing academically, so why not grow in their faith as well?" Morris said.

In-state service sites included Appalachian Outreach in Jefferson City, a backpack youth ministry in the Smoky Mountains and children’s ministries in Chattanooga. Beyond Tennessee, students volunteered at a collegiate ministry in Panama City Beach, Florida; a rural ministry in Somerset, Kentucky; a children’s ministry in Greenville, South Carolina; and inner-city ministry programs in Atlanta, Georgia; and Washington D.C. Internationally, one team travelled to the Dominican Republic to provide medical ministry. In addition, the A Cappella Choir served by performing in several states across the Southeast.

Students who worked with youth at the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home in Chattanooga continued a ministerial history spanning about three decades. Morris said the children often ask the home’s staff when Carson-Newman students are coming back.

“That is a testament to our ongoing relationship with them,” Morris said. “It’s important to do different things every year and change it up, but also to do these continued ministries and build relationships.”

Merci Kelly, a second-year junior double-majoring in religion and business, spent her spring break volunteering in Panama City Beach with a collegiate ministry program called BeachReach. Last year she said she came back from a SPOTS ministry trip in Philadelphia, Pa. with a different worldview of the homeless. This year she said she came back with a different worldview of those around her.

“We are in this little bubble of 2,000-2,500 students and our professors and sometimes we don’t see what happens in bigger cities, maybe even in our backyard,” Kelly said. “It changes how you feel about service, how you feel about your faith. It’s a great opportunity, especially if you’ve never been on a mission trip, to get your feet wet and see what’s going on around the world.”

“It shows the type of students we have here at Carson-Newman,” Morris said. “It shows a maturity of the students and their desire to serve others. It shows a dedication to Carson-Newman and its mission in the four decades or so we’ve been doing this.”

The next SPOTS experience will be a medical mission trip to Haiti in May.