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Record number of students participate in annual Service Day

Almost 1,200 students, faculty and staff engaged in community service throughout the greater Nashville area

Anna Moseley  | 

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Loudridge Pierre (left) inspires hope by washing the feet of students at Carter-Lawrence Elementary Magnet School.

On Wednesday classrooms at Lipscomb University sat empty as close to 1,200 students, faculty and staff dispersed across 53 locations to participate in community service projects in the Greater Nashville area as part of the university’s annual Service Day.

Once a year, the university cancels all afternoon classes to provide students the opportunity to serve at various schools, nonprofits, churches, parks, hospitals and foundations throughout the city, providing these organizations with many extra hands and hours of volunteer work.

Lipscomb’s College of Business, in partnership with  Samaritan’s Feet and Snider Fleet Solutions, sent 70 business students, faculty and staff to Carter-Lawrence Elementary Magnet School to provide students with a brand new pair of shoes.

As they walked into their gymnasium, Carter-Lawrence students were greeted by Lipscomb students sitting in front of tubs full of water for feet washing and boxes full of new shoes for each student to take home.

“Feet washing is an act demonstrated by Jesus, the ultimate humbling and example of a servant leader,” said Ray Eldridge, dean of Lipscomb University’s College of Business. “Our college mission is to develop business leaders who embrace the values and virtues of Jesus. So what better way to be Christ-like and live out his virtues than humble ourselves in the truest sense and serve others.”

Katie Meyers, development and project coordinator at Samaritan’s Feet, said from the time of its creation Samaritan’s Feet has aspired to give hope through the act of feet washing.

“During the few minutes that a volunteer spends with a student, we want the students to leave this encounter feeling like they have not only just been blessed with a pair of socks and shoes but also that they have been served by someone from their community,” said Meyers.

“We want this shoe distribution and the act of foot washing to inspire hope. In a time when our country is divided and when students don’t usually see or hear messages that bring unity, we believe this is a small, tangible way to bring words of hope and encouragement to the students.”

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John Wynia helps a Carter-Lawrence student find the perfect pair of new shoes.

Lipscomb students said they asked the kids about their day, their future and their new shoes as they washed their feet and fitted them for a new pair of sneakers. Olivia, 7, said her shoes were perfect and she will be able to run really fast in them.

“This experience has been really eye-opening,” said freshman business management major Mackenzie Mann. “Having good shoes that fit is such a small thing that we take for granted, but it is making a huge impact on these kids. As we wash their feet and give them a new pair of shoes, it puts a smile on their face. Just interacting with them and seeing how us being here brightens their day is really special.”

Snider Fleet Solutions, one of the largest service providers for the trucking industry, sponsored the event with a $10,000 check to purchase shoes for every student at Carter-Lawrence.

Rich Cannon, vice president of human resources at Snider, said service is one of the company’s core values and they strive to serve beyond themselves.

“We serve our customers, we serve our vendors and we serve those in the community,” said Cannon. “This is a very hands-on and intimate service project. After serving, I believe we always walk away with more of a blessing than what we intended to give when we came.”

Snider and Samaritan’s Feet have worked on several service projects together, and after establishing a relationship with Lipscomb’s College of Business through the leadership program T-Factor, the three organizations decided to work together for this project.

Since its creation in 2003, Samaritan’s Feet has given more than 6.8 million pairs of shoes in more than 108 countries and more than 385 U.S. cities.

Phil Campbell, regional manager for Samaritan’s Feet, said that the school children will remember this day forever because of the impact of the volunteers.

“The willingness to serve really stood out to me when the students from Lipscomb came in. This group was on the edge of their seats as I gave the training,” said Campbell. “That willingness is something you can’t teach and something you can’t force.Their willingness was so evident.”

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One group of Lipscomb students spent service day cleaning up at Radnor Lake.

Other locations where Lipscomb students served on Wednesday included the American Red Cross, local churches and nursing homes, Habitat for Humanity, Shelby Bottoms Natural Area, Youth Encouragement Services, the Nashville Zoo and Thistle Farms, among many others.

After spending his afternoon sorting shoes for distribution at Soles4Souls, junior finance major Butler Bowen said Service Day provides a unique opportunity for students to see the fruits of their labor.

“Having the chance to sort shoes and learn where they will go was a really neat experience,” said Bowen. “Going to a university that gives us the afternoon off in order to go and serve in the community is something we shouldn’t take for granted.”

Volunteer or donate to Samaritan’s Feet.

Learn about other ways to serve at Lipscomb University.