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Oakwood University Wins Home Depot Contest; Gets $50,000 Grant For Campus Improvements (1933 hits)

On Friday, May 3, 2013, at approximately 4:00 p.m. (CDT), the Home Depot Corporation named Oakwood University as the First Place, Tier 1 winner of its 2013 "Retool Your School" competition.

by Kay Campbell - al.com

In a stealth campaign that energized Seventh-day Adventists around the world, Oakwood University and its 1,939 students breezed past colleges with more than twice as many students to take first place in the recent Retool Your School campaign from Home Depot.

The No. 1 finish brings with it $50,000 that will be used to construct and equip a 30 by 50-foot outdoor pavilion near the large pond on campus, complete with fireplace, outdoor appliances and grill, and landscaping around the area, university spokespeople said Wednesday, May 8, 2013.

Best of all, says Tim Allston, director of public relations for Oakwood University, the school ran the campaign based on biblical principles, teachings and practices. The competition was open to Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the U.S., and 67 institutions entered the race. Fisk University in Nashville and Tuskegee University in Alabama both won $10,000 grants in the same competition.

“Our whole point was to be a witness,” Allston said Wednesday about the award, which was announced Friday, May 3, 2013.

“Because we encourage our supporters to only vote six days a week, we would have a lead until Friday evening, fall to No. 2 on Saturday, and then spike again on Saturday night.”

“It’s like when the Children of Israel were in the wilderness,” Allston said. “On Friday, they collected twice as much manna to carry them over the Sabbath hours.”

Oakwood, the only Historically Black College or University for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, structures its activities around keeping holy the Sabbath time from Friday night at sundown through Saturday night sundown.

“Yes, it’s nice to get the $50,000,” Allston said. “But it was the witnessing opportunity that made it really special. People all over the country were looking at the competition and thinking, ‘Who is this Oakwood University?’”

Since Oakwood is part of the Seventh-day Adventist worldwide network of schools, which is second only to Catholics for number of schools and colleges around the world, the university sent the “vote now, vote often” message to Adventists around the world.

During the university’s Honors Convocation on April 11, 2013, shortly before the voting period ended, Oakwood president Leslie Pollard described the blend of networks and strategies as the “secret recipe” that resulted in votes coming in from around the globe.

It helps, too, Allston said, that Oakwood’s students hail from 42 U.S. states and 22 countries and made sure all their friends back home were voting.

Even the pavilion itself will be a witness, said Lucy Cort, who wrote the grant application for Oakwood. Students will be involved in its construction, and the structure itself will support one of the objectives of Oakwood University and Seventh-day Adventism: To keep healthy as a sacred duty.

“Our campus really needed an outdoor recreational facility – a place for students to relax, congregate, study perhaps, and also for social gatherings,” Cort said. “This will promote healthful living in fresh air – part of how Oakwood believes in healthful living to help develop mind, body and spirit. We think it will be a beautiful place.”

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and the Huntsville City Council members will recognize Oakwood’s victory during the City Council meeting Thursday, May 9, 2013, Allston said.
Posted By: Reginald Culpepper
Friday, May 10th 2013 at 2:39PM
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