Gov. Asa Hutchison visited campus Monday, Nov. 28, to speak in chapel about his Restore Hope initiative, which focuses on foster care and prison recidivism. The University is a strategic partner of the Restore Hope effort being launched throughout Arkansas.
Wednesday, Nov. 30, Harding University hosted a special Christmas tree lighting ceremony in front of McInteer Bible and World Missions Building in honor of Restore Hope and to signify the commitment to the initiative. University students invited foster families from the Searcy community to watch the Christmas tree lighting, meet Santa Claus, and enjoy the University’s festive wonderland.
Senior Madeline Jones was a summer intern for Restore Hope in 2016. Jones is a public relations and leadership and ministry major from Ozark, Missouri. She said her time with Restore Hope was a phenomenal experience that allowed her to learn and make connections within a field she is passionate about.
“After learning so much about Restore Hope this summer, it’s been encouraging to see my peers, professors and mentors hear about this need and become equally convicted about our goal as Christians to let mercy triumph over judgment,” Jones said. “To let this concept rule us is to go out and figure out the best way that we can serve.”
The tree was built by Joey Myers, founder and owner of Woodlife Inc., a carpentry business. The 8-foot wide tree has a spiral design with a white stain. Senior Claire Patton was one of the students in charge of organizing the event. She said the tree was set up on the balcony of the McInteer Building so that people could see it from inside as well as outside as they walked by the building.
“The project is supposed to raise awareness, raise money for, or otherwise help an organization or charity — something that is for the greater good and is God-like in nature,” Patton said.
The lighting ceremony was organized by students in Communication and Media Ethics taught by Assistant Professor of Bible Andrew Baker and Department of Communication Chair Jim Miller. Students were given the opportunity to purchase a light bulb or ornament to put on the tree for $5. The money raised will be given to foster families in White County in an effort to buy Christmas presents for foster children.
“This project provided Harding students with the opportunity to be involved who maybe can’t volunteer more directly with Restore Hope,” Jones said. “It is raising awareness on campus and an awesome way for us to show Christ in a real way to the immediate community around us.”