KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — 'Vols help Vols' is an important motto at the University of Tennessee. That's exactly what the school is doing by raising much-needed funds for students struggling due to the spread of coronavirus.
The fund is administered through the Office of the Dean of Students and supported through VOLstarter, the university’s crowdfunding platform.
Anyone interested in helping students can donate here.
UT's campus is usually a sea of orange, but now it's mostly empty as volunteers stay at home and go to classes online for the rest of the semester.
"This is a unique time and probably not the ideal way you wanted to spend your senior year," said Vol for Life Peyton Manning, who surprised one online class.
During the transition to online, student body president Natalie Campbell is trying to stay positive.
"All of the past student body presidents will all joke that there's never a manual and you have to be prepared for literally anything," she said. "Just trying to navigate how to serve students remotely and make sure we have a presence in their lives."
UT realizes some students are financially struggling during the changes occurring due to the spread of COVID-19. Meal plans, parking permits and on-campus housing fees are being refunded.
On Wednesday, an emergency relief fund was created to help them.
"It's for these unexpected expenses that come up. It's a great way to support students," said Campbell.
Within a day, Vols from around the world contributed more than $35,000 to the fund. Chancellor Donde Plowman also promised that any Vol with an on-campus job before the COVID-19 outbreak would be able to keep it.
"It's so comforting to see how our entire community is rallying around students and just each other," said Campbell.
As university officials work hard to answer questions from students and faculty every day, Campbell and Manning encourage everyone to rally together to keep the volunteer spirit alive.
"Keep a positive attitude and keep working like you're doing," said Manning.