UTC Chancellor Roger Brown presented UTC alumna and Miss Tennessee Chandler Lawson with a citation “for embodying UTC’s spirit of achievement with her competition and victory in the 2012 Miss Tennessee Scholarship Pageant and by serving as an advocate for children in Tennessee and beyond.”
“You’ve made us extremely proud,” Chancellor Brown told Ms. Lawson.
Ms. Lawson’s personal platform aspires to help eradicate childhood hunger. She is the founder and spokesperson for 5 Loaves 4 Kids, the 501(c)3 non-profit organization established in Ms. Lawson’s hometown of Tullahoma. With the help of principals, teachers and cafeteria workers, Ms. Lawson created a weekend backpack program that has served food to more than 40,000 children since the program’s inception in 2007.
“The program is self-sustaining. We’ve had grants, private donations, and a lot of help from civic organizations and church groups. This program pairs the most affluent and the least,” Ms. Lawson explained.
She said she would love nothing more for 5 Loaves 4 Kids to provide a template for other communities in Tennessee.
Ms. Lawson explained to Brown she was not a girl who did “Toddlers & Tiaras.” “I have two brothers - we played in the dirt and I played sports with them,” she said.
Since the former UTC University Honors student was crowned a month ago, she has logged 3,400 miles traveling across the state.
Ms. Lawson explained that the Miss America Organization has partnered with the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals to raise funds and awareness for children’s hospitals. By the end of this week, Ms. Lawson will have visited children in five hospitals in Tennessee, including T.C. Thompson’s Children’s Hospital at Erlanger.
Ms. Lawson will be in Memphis Wednesday, assisting with the daylong food drive at Mid-South Food Bank.