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King University Knoxville Gives Back to Community through Service Projects

BRISTOL, Tenn., Feb. 26, 2017 – Servant leadership is one of the qualities upon which King University was founded 150 years ago. The students, faculty, and staff of King’s Knoxville campus, located in Hardin Valley, are giving back to the local community that welcomed them eight years ago. A variety of successful service projects have been conducted throughout the past year, with hopes to continue the projects into this and coming years.

“Our goal is to have a number of service projects throughout the year that work well and about which students are passionate,” said Priscilla Duenkel, regional director of Student Affairs Knoxville. “I’d love to see these projects become annual events; hopefully, we can add others as needs arise within the surrounding community.”

One event with which King University Knoxville volunteered was the West Park Baptist Church’s Community Care Day. In addition to King’s traditional and master’s-level nursing students providing basic healthcare to participants though the health fair, others helped with automotive care, home care, and neighborhood care by the Dogwood Team.

One issue impacting Knoxville’s community is that of homelessness. According to the most recent data posted by Knoxville’s Office of Homelessness, in 2015, 9,339 individuals accessed homeless services from Knoxville Homeless Management Information System partner agencies. “We wanted to find some way to help; even it was on a small scale. Students, faculty, and staff came together to assemble bags with a variety of items that might be of help to the individuals receiving them. The ideas were for the King community to keep a bag in their car to give to a person in need. We were also able to drop several bags to the Lost Sheep Ministry which serves the homeless population ‘under the bridge’ where the homeless are known to spend time.”

The bags included items such as bottled water, snack bars and other non-perishable food items, a tooth brush and tooth paste, Band-Aids, and deodorant. “We also included a personal note with an encouraging message to let them know we were praying for them,” said Duenkel.

A native of Clinton, Tennessee, King senior Heather Scudder said, “It made me feel good to know that I was attending a University that cared about the homeless population. We all pitched in and made the bags for them. When I gave my bag to the gentlemen, he was so thankful.”

“The impact on myself and others in the King community was huge,” Duenkel said. “At times, you will be driving down a street and see someone in need, but you don’t have anything readily available to give them. Having something already prepared and on hand can be a blessing to someone with which you cross paths. I know, for me personally, the impact when you see their face and realize they were hungry and in need—it is something you don’t forget.”

To say thank you to those who have served their country, students, faculty, and staff penned handwritten letters of thanks which were shared with veterans at the Ben Atchley Tennessee State Veterans Home. “In addition to the letters, the King community are provided with information throughout campus on how to go the extra mile in a variety of ways such as delivering meals to veterans or helping them with yardwork. There are so many ways to say thank you to a vet for his or her service,” said Duenkel.

Mission of Hope’s Christmas & Blue Barrel Campaign helps families in rural Appalachia who are struggling and in need of basic necessities such as food, hygiene products, clothing, and toys. A blue barrel was placed onsite at King’s Knoxville campus. “Everyone was eager to give to such a worthwhile cause—helping families here in our own back yard,” commented Duenkel.

“Another service for Christmas included partnering with Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child program,” said Duenkel. “A display was set up at the Knoxville campus in November to provide King students, faculty, and staff with information on how to help provide Christmas gift for area children who might not otherwise receive presents. We collected 28 boxes which were delivered to a distribution center at a local church. Everyone enjoyed participating in such a worthwhile cause.”

Through Operation Christmas Child, King participants were able to track to which country their gift box went. According to Samaritan’s Purse International Relief, “Every shoebox gift is an excellent resource for evangelism and discipleship which leads to the multiplication of new believers and churches around the world.” Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham said, “I want every child to know there is a God who loves them.”

“We hope to continue partnering with Samaritan’s Purse each year; it is such an amazing program,” added Duenkel.

The year was capped off with Christmas at King, where families come together at the Knoxville campus to celebrate the reason for the season. Children have the opportunity to decorate ornaments and cookies. They also have their photo taken with Santa. “It is a good time for families to come together, kids to make some crafts, and enjoy some time together,” said Duenkel.

Scudder said, “My children looked forward to coming to the Christmas at King event. They enjoyed decorating the cookies and painting the ornaments. It was a great family event. The kids also enjoyed seeing where their mom went to school.”

If you are interested in helping with a community service project through King University Knoxville, contact Priscilla Duenkel at


King University is a Presbyterian-affiliated, doctoral-level comprehensive university. Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing. A number of research, off-campus learning opportunities, and travel destinations are also available. King University is a NCAA Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity sports. For more information about King University, visit King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability. King University is certified by SCHEV to operate locations in Virginia. For more information on SCHEV certification, contact the King University office at Southwest Virginia Community College, 309 College Road, Richlands, VA 24641.