Oakwood University, an Adventist higher education institution in Huntsville, Alabama, won the Retool Your School contest that Home Depot sponsored over recent months. Its 1,939 students came in ahead of larger schools, reported The Huntsville Times yesterday. Fisk University in Nashville, with an enrollment of 842, and Tuskegee University, with an enrollment of 2,684, tied for second place in the contest to see how many supporters and alumni would register online at a Home Depot web site within a limited number of weeks.
The contest specifically targeted the historically African American colleges and universities and a total of 67 institutions entered. Oakwood will be awarded a $50,000 grant by Home Depot for campus beautification and the other two schools will each get a $10,000 grant. Oakwood has announced that it will use the grant to construct a pavilion near a pond on campus, complete with an outdoor kitchen.
An Oakwood spokesperson pointed out that the project focuses on healthful living and students will be involved in the construction. It is not simply decorative. It will also be used for community events.
Kay Campbell, religion editor for the newspaper, explained that Oakwood had deliberately handicapped its performance in the contest by asking its supporters to not go to the Home Depot web site from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. "We encouraged our supporters to only vote six days a week," she quoted Tim Allston, the university's director of public relations. He explained the Adventist doctrine of the Sabbath and said it was like the Children of Israel not collecting manna on the Sabbath.
Dr. Leslie Pollard, university president, pointed out that Oakwood also has contacts around the world from its widespread alumni and because it is sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church which operates the largest Protestant network of schools on the globe. Oakwood's current student body comes from 42 of the 50 United States and 22 other countries, according to Allston.
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and the city council will recognize Oakwood University for its victory during the council session on Thursday (May 9). The Huntsville Times web site includes video of an April 11 convocation on campus and will likely include video of the city council session in a few days.
The university has also announced that its students with faculty team leaders will be involved in four mission trips during the coming summer break. One group will do a project in Kenya where Oakwood student volunteers have gone each of the last 13 years. A second project will be in Madagascar where Oakwood has a faculty and staff development agreement with a local school. The other two mission trips will work in American cities, Memphis and Orlando.
These projects will involve students in community service, feeding the hungry, working with children and cleaning up slums. Each project will also involve student assisting with evangelism campaigns. Community supporters can also participate, stated the university's associate chaplain, Pastor Ronald Pollard.
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