Last Friday, a bright red double-decker-bus-turned-thrift-store sat parked in Carter Circle for most of the day, surrounded by a flurry of tents and tended to by workers and volunteers in equally bright red t-shirts.
The bus is the physical manifestation of an organization called Red Bus Project, which is connected with Steven Curtis Chapman’s organization Show Hope. Show Hope provides adoption grants, care for orphans, and helps families who are going through the adoption process.
Chapman’s college-age children, Emily and Caleb, wanted to find a way to get college students interested in and involved with the process of adoption and their vision is realized in the Red Bus Project.
Sam Moreland, a freshman who was one of Covenant’s student leaders for the event, sees the Red Bus Project as a way to get college students involved with orphan care.
“We know we aren’t in stages of life where we can adopt or donate large sums of money, so the question becomes ‘What can we do?’ We can sacrifice and donate nice clothes to a good cause, as well as buy items from the bus,” Moreland said.
Red Bus Project is a double-decker bus that has been remodeled into a thrift store. This spring, the bus has been making a tour to different college campuses. In it, students can both buy and donate clothes. After the bus closes up shop in the evening, Caleb Chapman and his band, CALEB, perform. The profit from Red Bus Project then goes to Show Hope.
Maegan Wallin and Emily Lawson, two students from Shorter University who decided to volunteer with Red Bus Project for the day, said they thought the bus was well-received at Covenant. They were not outrageously busy, but they saw “a good amount of traffic” throughout the day, as students stopped by to donate bags of clothes or peruse the racks in the bus.
According to Wallin and Lawson, reception at other schools has also been encouraging. At Tennessee Technical College, about 300 students showed up for CALEB’s evening concert.
Christiana Fitzpatrick, Special Programs and Mentoring Coordinator for Covenant’s Chapel Department, said that she loves “the way the Red Bus Project is connecting colleges to one another and inviting students to be part of something bigger than themselves.” Donating a few pieces of clothing or buying a pair of jeans might seem insignificant, said Fitzpatrick, but “many students doing this together could actually enable a family to adopt a child who would not otherwise have a home.”
Even though Red Bus Project was only on Covenant’s campus for one day, there are ways to stay involved with the project. Moreland said that she plans to go to the bus’s stop at University of Tennessee Chattanooga’s campus on April 16th. Students can also volunteer to travel with the bus for a day or two like Wallin and Lawson did.
Fitzpatrick hopes Red Bus Project will spur students to tell friends and family about organizations like Show Hope, making them more aware of the needs of orphans and opportunities to help care for them.
“The Red Bus project is very intentional about wanting to be a catalyst for student involvement — not to be a one-time event, but push Christians towards better understanding and growing in the Biblical mandate to care for orphans,” said Fitzpatrick.
For information about getting further involved with orphan care and ministries like Red Bus Project, visit redbusproject.org and showhope.org.