By this time every Seventh-day Adventist in North America must have heard that Oakwood University hopes to round up the largest number of votes in the Retool Your School contest being conducted by the Home Depot chain of stores in collaboration with the Historically Black Colleges and Universities. It involves getting the word out to supporters and convincing them to go to the national company’s web site and click the right button. Of course, it also means that supporters have to be willing to wade through some of the company’s ads.
Because of the historic practice among Adventists to stay away from commercial activity on the Sabbath, Oakwood’s spokespersons have been suggesting that their alumni, students, family members and friends not click from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. Consequently other schools have surged ahead on Saturdays, but so far Oakwood has regained the lead each Sunday. Oakwood is one of the smallest institutions in the category, less than half the size of the school in second place.
The last day to help Oakwood University win a prize is April 15 when many Americans will be distracted by a different responsibility—the deadline to submit income tax returns. Oakwood is viewing this as a “David and Goliath” story, according to a news release from the denomination’s North American Division. As the only historically African American higher education institution in the Adventist movement, Oakwood has been an underdog since it began as an agricultural and technical school in the 19th century.
If the university wins the $50,000 first prize, it will use the funds to construct an outdoor pavilion and kitchen so that it can share its campus with visitors and neighbors. If it wins the $25,000 second prize, the plan is to use the funds to install a watering system for the sports fields.
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