Sara Beth Byars, a Union University senior and Dyersburg High School graduate, was one of 12 Union students that painted two classrooms at Nova Elementary, which had not been painted in 20 years.
The students were one of 72 groups and more than 1,000 students, faculty and staff who participated in Union's 10th annual Campus and Community: A Day of Remembrance and Service.
Campus and Community Day serves as a chance for the Union family to express its gratitude to the local community for the ways residents helped the university following the devastating tornadoes that damaged the Union campus is 2002 and 2008.
Byars, an elementary education major, has been serving her home community of Dyersburg since she was in middle school.
She remembers her first experience serving the community was during high school.
"We have something back home called Jerusalem Project," said Byars. "It's where you sleep at night in a place all together with a bunch of youth and you go out the next day and you serve the community in different ways -- either raking leaves for people, building ramps for wheelchairs or painting. Basically any service that someone needs."
When Byars was a freshman at Union she heard a lot of people talk about Campus and Community Day, so she and her roommate signed up for a service project. Her sophomore year, Byars became a Life Group leader at Union and did a service project with them as well.
"I signed up this year because it was with the education department, and I figured it would be a great thing to serve in a school, since I want to teach," said Byars. "Now that I've come to Union I realize how service is a reflection of how Christ sacrificed his own life for us. We're sacrificing a small portion of our lives to serve people all around us -- Christians and non-Christians."
Byars hopes when she has her own classroom that she will be able to instill in her students her passion for serving and give them opportunities to serve -- even if it is as simple as picking up trash at the school or raking leaves.