Middle Tennessee State University will close most offices Monday, March 9, to encourage employees to spend a “True Blue Day of Service” to volunteer with recovery efforts underway after this week’s deadly Midstate storms.
“When we say we are ‘True Blue,’ we declare our devotion to learning, growth and service,” MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee said Thursday. “I am asking our employees to put those values into action with this True Blue Day of Service.”
The closing will allow many of MTSU’s about 1,200 full- and part-time nonfaculty employees “the ability to provide a helping hand in our region,” McPhee said.
Previously scheduled events, such as campus tours and hosted meetings, will be held as planned Monday, and the closure will not apply to those deemed essential to ongoing campus operations.
The closure will not affect academic activities, since the university’s annual Spring Break starts Monday and faculty and students will not be in classes next week.
McPhee noted that two of MTSU’s locally governed sister institutions — Tennessee State University in Nashville and Tennessee Tech in Cookeville — sustained substantial damage from the March 3 storms.
Earlier this week, MTSU officials reached out to about 3,700 Blue Raider students with home addresses in Benton, Davidson, Putnam, Smith and Wilson counties to make sure they were aware of available resources, including counseling and emergency aid.
“With each new day, the destruction to our surrounding counties from the recent tornadoes is becoming more evident,” McPhee said. “With two of our sister institutions, one in Nashville and the other in Cookeville, the damage has occurred not only to the campuses but also touched the personal lives of many of their employees and their families.
“We are fortunate that our campus was spared, but I know we have many students, faculty and staff from the affected areas. We also understand the need for volunteers in these cleanup efforts, whether through the Red Cross or some other local agency, and the desire of our campus community to lend a hand.”
McPhee has also encouraged donations to the MTSU Student Emergency Fund, which provides help solely to MTSU undergraduate and graduate students. To give to the fund, go to www.mtsu.edu/tornado2020 or send a check to the MTSU Foundation, addressed to: Development Office, MTSU, 1301 E. Main St., Box 109, Murfreesboro, TN 37129. (Please write “Student Emergency Fund” on the memo line.)
One nonprofit coordinating volunteer resources is Hands On Nashville, which has registered more than 20,000 volunteers for tornado cleanup and recovery. The organization is coordinating with emergency officials on when and where volunteers will be best deployed in the days ahead, including two efforts this weekend.
Volunteers can register to help at www.hon.org, which also has a list of ongoing volunteer and recovery projects in the Nashville area. Hands On Nashville will contact potential volunteers once they’ve registered.
Other ways to help:
• The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee (www.cfmt.org) is managing a general emergency response fund.
• Donate items to the Community Resource Center in Nashville (www.crcnashville.org), which Friday morning was specifically requesting personal hygiene items; baby items, including formula, diapers, wipes, pacifiers and bottles; battery-operated lanterns; tarps; rolls of plastic sheeting; work gloves, vinyl gloves and latex gloves; Windex and Lysol products; batteries and flashlights; and towels of all sizes,
• Donate food, funds or organize a drive through Second Harvest Food Bank (www.secondharvestmidtn.org). Donations can be dropped off in the Second Harvest Food Bank barrels in the front of participating Kroger stores, or donors can bring them to Second Harvest’s distribution center at 331 Great Circle Road, Nashville, TN 37228.
— Andrew Oppmann (Andrew.Oppmann@mtsu.edu)