Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2008-04-15

Twelve Samford University students got their hands a little dirty Saturday, April 12, but it was all to help their counterparts at Union University in Jackson, Tenn.

The "dirty dozen," plus two Samford staff members, spent the day assisting with landscaping chores on the campus that was severely damaged by a tornado on Feb. 5.

They turned earth, pulled weeds, uprooted shrubs to prepare ground for new dirt and mulch, and planted new trees during their brief visit to the Tennessee town 232 miles northwest of Birmingham.

The group made the five-hour drive to Jackson Friday evening and returned Saturday night after a chilly nine-hour work day.

"The Union staff and students were incredibly generous and hospitable. Several students stopped as they were walking by to thank us for coming," said Dean Smedley, a Samford residence life educator who accompanied the group.

"The progress they have already made on the residence halls is amazing," Smedley said of repairs to the housing facilities, most of which were either totally destroyed or severely damaged by the tornado.

The Samford students' work was especially appreciated near the building that houses Union's School of Pharmacy, which expects a visit from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education later this month to review its accreditation status.

"They wanted to try to make the area look as nice as possible," said Smedley, adding that the Union grounds crew had not had time to work on the project because of other pressing needs.

The volunteers traveled in a van loaned by Shades Mountain Baptist Church and driven by Samford missionary in residence Dale Wood.

Samford and Union consider themselves "sister institutions" due to their common Baptist denominational roots.

Student participants included Jessica Barton, Katie Campbell, Mark Cook, Matt Dixon, Kallie Ernest, Kendall Fruge, Carter Jones, Matt McEniry, Jessica Nix, Paul Sloderbeck, Lindsey Vaughn and Cynthia Wozow.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.