More than 200 students at Sullivan Foundation partner school Carson-Newman University participated in an annual day of service, albeit with a lot of changes from years past.

The university participates in Operation Inasmuch each fall semester, with hundreds of students traditionally volunteering to serve on-site with dozens of community partners throughout East Tennessee.

As with so many other things this year, the pandemic required a shift from tradition since many organizations are not taking on-site volunteers. This year, the event took place Wednesday, Oct. 7, and involved mostly virtual acts of service. The University canceled classes so that students could participate.

Related: Carson-Newman University mobilizes 500 volunteers for 2019 Operation Inasmuch

“We realize that the event was a bit different this year, and we are so proud of the participation that we have had as well as those who have continued to spread the word about our event this year,” said Deanna Simpson-Beavers, Carson-Newman’s community development coordinator for the Center for Community Engagement. Simpson-Beavers co-chaired the planning committee.

“I hope that this event helped students learn a bit more about the importance of service-learning, what it means to serve as a Christian, and about local organizations that are working on various issues in the community,” she said. “We hope that the students used this day off from their classes to truly take a step back to look at the community around them and reflect on the importance of serving others.”

Participants logged into the university’s online coursework platform to learn about the value of advocacy, using and leveraging personal platforms on behalf of others. Students then completed advocacy projects on behalf of area organizations, such as writing letters to the editor of area newspapers, sharing on social media how friends and family members can support the organization of their choice, or championing the organization’s cause through an online petition.

Students advocated for such area organizations as Jefferson County Habitat for Humanity, Narrow Ridge Earth Literacy Center, the Mossy Creek Foundation, the Emerald Youth Foundation, and the university’s community ministry, Appalachian Outreach. In all, 17 organizations from throughout East Tennessee benefited from the students’ efforts.

At least two other service activities also took place. Nursing students prepared supply packets for donations to Haiti, while a small class of freshmen students cleared trash and debris from a section of Mossy Creek in Jefferson City.

Carson-Newman’s participation in Operation Inasmuch is a partnership with the Center for Community Engagement, Campus Ministries, Global Education and Student Activities.

In 2006, Carson-Newman was the first college or university to implement Operation Inasmuch. Founded by Dr. David Crocker, the effort has since been adopted by organizations across the country.

The program’s name stems from Matthew 25:40, where Jesus says: “Inasmuch as you serve the least of these, you serve me.”

This article has been edited slightly from the original version appearing on the Carson-Newman University website.

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