Day of service draws thousands to neighborhoods

Katherine Martin

More than 1,200 students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the Tuscaloosa community participated in the University of Alabama’s Day of Service, which was held in remembrance of the April 27 tornado.

Volunteers cleared debris in the tornado-damaged areas of Alberta, Forest Lake and Rosedale from 8 a.m. until noon. Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox and UA interim president Judy Bonner stopped by work areas to thank the volunteers for their service. The workday concluded with a lunch on the Quad and moment of silence for the six UA students and one employee who died as a result of the tornado.

Jimmy Taylor, Student Government Association vice president for external affairs, helped with registration and spoke at the banquet that ended the ceremony. Taylor said the Day of Service was a step in another direction to recovery.

“Even though it’s been a year, people are still feeling the effects of the tornado every day,” he said.

Kaitlin Burchett, a freshman majoring in psychology and Spanish, volunteered in Rosedale, picking up debris so that large machinery could come in and lay the foundation for the new building.

“It was humbling to see how many people from this community still come out and still care,” Burchett said. “It’s been a year, and people are still coming out to help clean.”

Matt Harris, SGA executive vice president, also volunteered in Rosedale picking up debris. Harris said there was a significant difference in the field after the group left the area.

“It was great to see a ton of people come together for a common cause and show that they haven’t forgotten about last year’s tornado,” Harris said. “It’s events like this that build a community.”

The event served as a good bonding opportunity for members of the UA community and locals alike, Taylor said.

“There were groups working together you wouldn’t normally see working together,” he said.

A year later, Taylor said, the fact that people are still volunteering shows the spirit of the UA community.

“It’s really an emotional day,” he said. “People care so much about it. It’s been a year, but it hasn’t faded at all.”

The UA Day of Service was the first of a series of events and remembrance services that will culminate with the city of Tuscaloosa’s memorial service in Coleman Coliseum on April 27.