By Rubin E. Grant
Vestavia Hills High School senior Nathaniel Bass wanted to do something special to honor the Rebels’ legendary football coach.
So, Bass, president emeritus of a student-led club at Vestavia Hills, organized the first Buddy Anderson Serve Day. The school’s One Birmingham Service Club hosted the event last Saturday at Christian Service Mission in Avondale.
“Our club believes that community is built through serving alongside one another,” Bass said. “Coach Anderson selflessly and faithfully served the Vestavia Hills community and the Birmingham area throughout his years as head coach of the Rebels.”
More than 100 students and others from the community volunteered to pack 600 food boxes for families of Cornerstone Schools of Alabama and Greater Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Birmingham. Volunteers also sorted items donated to CSM and worked in the organization’s community gardens.
Anderson, who retired at the end of the 2020 football season after 43 years as the Rebels’ head football coach, spoke to the group about servant leadership before the work began. He told them about the importance of standing in the gap for others and keeping the main things the main things. He shared an emotional story about a friend of his who died in combat during the Vietnam War after jumping on a grenade to protect his fellow soldiers from the blast.
“He stood in the gap for his unit and I told them that by being there to volunteer, they were standing in the gap for people by putting their hands and feet to work for someone else,” Anderson said.
Anderson also shared in the work and was thrilled to see new Rebels football coach Robert Evans and several of Vestavia Hills’ current football players among the volunteers.
“I thought everything went great,” Anderson said. “I saw a couple of teachers and a couple of parents and a couple of my former players. It was good to see Robert there and see him involved in something outside of football. That means a lot to the students who don’t play football who were there volunteering.”
Bass was ecstatic about the number of volunteers who came out to participate.
“It was a great day, better than I envisioned,” Bass said. “We had every generation represented from kids in elementary school to older adults. It was amazing to see, especially seeing the young kids who were there learning what it means to serve.”
The group worked efficiently.
“We were supposed to take three hours packing the boxes,” Bass said, “but we were done in 11⁄2 hours, so we started doing some other things. It was a great reminder of the importance of serving others.”
Bass, who attends Shades Mountain Baptist Church, said that’s the mission of One Birmingham Service Club, formerly called the Vestavia Hills High School Habitat for Humanity.
“We are called to love our neighbor and that’s what we try to do,” Bass said. “Our name change reflects our desire to better know and love our neighbors across the Birmingham community because there are a lot of people dealing with homelessness and food insecurity. We also are working toward racial reconciliation.”