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KNOXVILLE — On Saturday, Aug. 28, 60 students and faculty in the College of Business Administration at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will put down their books and pick up their hammers for a building blitz. The Tennessee Organization of MBAs (TOMBA) students are building their eighth annual Habitat for Humanity house. The blitz begins at 7:30 a.m. and lasts throughout the day at 3409 Evans Ave. in the Lonsdale neighborhood.

This year’s build is for Emily and Nicolas Avery. Emily is a junior at UT and Nicholas works full-time for Hostess Brands. The couple has a 17-month-old son, Benjamin.

This is the first time TOMBA has built a house for a fellow Vol. The Averys’ UT student housing is being torn down, and they have worked to accumulate enough Habitat hours to get their own home.

“When we found out that TOMBA was our partner I thought it was kind of poetic for a group of UT students to be working on our house,” Emily Avery said. “To have put so much time and energy into UT and to have them put so much time and energy into us makes us feel incredibly grateful.”

The Averys have been busy accumulating 500 sweat equity hours on various home-builds, including the TOMBA building blitz last year, attending home construction/maintenance workshops and budgeting classes, and taking out their own mortgage in order to qualify for a home — all while attending college classes and working full-time.

Saturday’s building blitz will install the house’s walls and roof; the entire build will take seven to nine weeks.

For the past seven years, TOMBA students have been devoting part of their fall semester to help families like the Averys build a home. They have been joined by other dedicated UT students, including several UT athletic teams.

“One of the most critical lessons we can learn as business students is to become responsible business leaders who give back to the community. After meeting the families we help, we’ve become even more determined to extend a helping hand to those who haven’t had the same opportunities as we have,” TOMBA officer Brad White said. “The gratitude of the families and the sheer joy on their faces as they see their homes being constructed really drives home the significance of the time and energy we give.”

TOMBA is a student-run organization for full-time MBA students and faculty.

The organization is part of “Volunteers Rock the World!” which is a Ready for the World (RFTW) initiative. RFTW aims to highlight members of the UT Knoxville family who are lending a hand at home or in communities around the globe. To learn more about “Volunteers Rock the World!” and Ready for the World, visit

You can view a video of TOMBA’s 2009 build on the “Volunteers Rock the World!” Facebook page. (You need a Facebook account to access the video.)

For more information about the UT Knoxville College of Business Administration, visit

C O N T A C T :

Cindy Raines (865-974-4359,

Whitney Holmes (865-974-5460,