Against the canopy of orange and white, Knoxville lies as the backdrop not only for a population of students and teachers, but also for a number of homeless men and women.

While this issue has been addressed in various ways, Eddie Young of Redeemer Church of Knoxville garnered the support of some students and the city to form the non-profit organization, Redeeming Hope Ministries.

“Redeeming Hope places a big emphasis on ‘holistic transformation,’” senior Caitlin Wise said. “Our goal is to be their friends and reintroduce them into society.”

In addition to building friendships, this non-profit also provides food supplies for anyone who wishes to participate in the program.

“Every first and third Wednesday, we have ‘Food in the Fort,’” Wise said. “You can come and get $75-worth of groceries. We have a partnership with Beardsley Farm, which is local, so we serve some really fresh food.”

Redeeming Hope wants to invest in those struggling financially on all levels. The program not only reaches out to those that are on the streets, but also to those that find themselves skating a thin line between those housed and the homeless.

“We want to befriend people who could lose it all, who are one electric bill from being homeless,” Wise said.

As men and women gather together to collect food on designated Wednesdays, Redeeming Hope also initiated an art class with opportunities to create various paintings and crafts providing a creative outlet that some do not get to express in their everyday lives.

“This was our ‘aesthetic portion’ — we wanted them to be exposed to art,” Wise said. “I loved doing it, and there were some really sweet people.”

Along with Wise, other students found enjoyment in the time they spent volunteering at Redeeming Hope and in the relationships they established. For Lauren Stephens, junior in child and family studies, it helped to provide a fresh outlook on school and Knoxville itself.

“It has opened my eyes to people in Knoxville outside of the university,” Stephens said. “Opening my eyes and heart to the homeless in Knoxville has given me a bigger appreciation for my schooling and privileges I have been blessed with. I’m able to do something I enjoy — art — with people I don’t normally interact with.”

Redeeming Hope operates year-round and finds its support from both students and fundraising events. Running with Hope, their most recent event, drew a multitude of students to Circle Park this past Saturday morning to partake in a 5k race.

“Two hundred and fifty-five people participated in the race, but more signed up or donated to Redeeming Hope Ministries,” volunteer Chelsea Knotts said. “The prize for first place men was a $25 gift card to Bonefish Grill, a free kayak rental from River Sports Outfitters, a water bottle from the UT Bookstore, a Sonic card, two Hardee’s cards for a free breakfast, a Wendy’s card for a free frosty. The women’s prize was the same except instead of a Bonefish Grill card, they had a Papa John’s gift certificate for two large pizzas with any toppings.”

From the support that came in due to the race, Redeeming Hope welcomed a flood of donations from runners, non-runners, raffles and several other advocates.

“The day of the race, around $1,150 was raised in day of registrants, raffles and donations,” Knotts said, “These amounts don’t include the money we raised from a Buffalo Wild Wings percentage night, and the leftover money from the $5,000 Haslam Scholar donation that was used to have the race. I would say we raised around $7,000 for Redeeming Hope Ministries.”

Anxiety accompanies any event that requires volunteer participation — worry that no money will be raised, plans will go awry or no one will show up. Running with Hope coordinators, however, found success in the outcome of their endeavors.

“I think this event was a great success — 255 participants is amazing for a first time race,” Knotts said. “On top of that, this event has garnered a lot of name recognition for Redeeming Hope Ministries and will help us in the future when we are having future events for this great organization.”

Amid the bustling fall that Knoxville generally yields, this non-profit stepped into the limelight to not only raise awareness of the homeless community, but also to encourage student involvement in life beyond Big Orange Country.

“Redeeming Hope has made me enjoy the city and makes me want to invest in the people while I’m here,” Stephens said.