Chrystal Houston, December 22nd, 2009
Magic. That’s how Theresa Mangapora describes the outcome of the Mays student project Aggies Collecting Dollars for Cans (ACDC). The students involved in ACDC collaborated with A&M campus dining services to enable university students to donate unused money in their meal plan accounts to the Brazos Food Bank. In the last week of the semester, the effort netted $4,119 in donations. “They saw an opportunity that had been wasted,” said Mangapora, executive director of the food bank. “All the pieces fell into placeâ€¦they were able to make magic happen.”
Every $1 contributed to the food bank purchases five pounds of food, says Mangapora, who estimates the student’s contribution to be about 20,000 pounds, or one semi truck-full. That’s roughly a seventh of the food bank’s monthly quota.
Almost 600 students participated in community service activities this semester as part of the sophomore-level Integrated Work Life Competencies course at Mays, doing everything from making sandwiches to staging dachshund races.
Team ACDC and 80 other student groups (nearly 600 students in all) were performing community service as part of a sophomore-level business class, Integrated Work Life Competencies. When tasked with the creation of $1,000-worth of value to a charitable organization, the response from Mays students was varied: some chose to build ramps for the disabled, others chose to mentor at-risk youth. The student-led projects taught participants a variety of lessons, from teamwork to professionalism to communication skills, but it impressed upon them one thing more: the value of selfless service.
At the end of the semester, all of the groups presented at a service fair, showcasing their achievements to judges and competing for scholarship money. Each member of the top four teams won a $250 scholarship for their upcoming semester. Team ACDC and three others were chosen.
Team En Fuego
When it came time to decide where they would focus their efforts, the seven members of Team En Fuego didn’t have to discuss their options for long. “We all had a keen interest in animals,” said group member Christopher Reed ’12. That shared passion led them to work with the Brazos Animal Shelter. The organization immediately put them to work, adding them to the planning committee of their annual fundraiser, Wiener Fest. Group members met their $1,000-goal by helping to organize and execute the event, which this year had nearly triple the attendance of previous years and raised $47,000.
“It was more fun than work,” said Reed, who values the event planning experience he received through this project. He says he was pleased that the event was so successful, as the increased profits will be used to purchase more land for the shelter to expand their facilities.
Mays 6.0 fed the hungry, starting within the Wehner Building. Partnering with the recognized A&M student organization The PB&J Project, group members sold peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to raise money for meals for children in Kenya. Students manned a table in one of the main halls of Wehner over the lunch hour for several weeks, encouraging their classmates to give up their lunch money (and any other change they possessed). In return, students received a PB&J and the privilege of providing a meal for someone in need. The team contributed $1,040 of value to the organization through their labor. Over the semester, the project collected more than $2,500.
The project hasn’t ended with the final grade. Like many other students in the class, Kevin Gilmartin ’12 says that he and group members plan to continue the effort next semester. “We want to see how much we can raise and how far this can go,” he said. “We don’t want things to go back to normal.” Gilmartin says it struck him when he heard that for $1.50, he could provide a daily meal for a child in Kenyaâ€”for a month. He’s spreading that message through the PB&J Project, telling his classmates that it doesn’t take a lot of time or money to make a difference in the life of a child.
Team Capace group members gave of their time at Waldenbrooke Estates, a retirement community in Bryan, Texas. Over the course of the semester they facilitated an annual Meet Your Neighbor mixer for the residents and also planted an herb garden in memory of a former staff member of the facility. The bulk of their time, however, was spent creating a play tailored for the residents.
The activity started as an acting class, but the residents were interested in putting on a show. The students complied: They spent several weeks writing a script, collecting props and costumes, creating simple set pieces, and rehearsing the cast of 10.
They called the 20-minute show “A Very Gilligan Thanksgiving” (the residents chose the theme). Due to illness, two of the residents had to be replaced with students on the day of the production, but still, it was a hit. “Every chair was filled,” said team representative Nida Haq ’12, who estimated about 75 were in the audience. Both the participants and the audience loved it, she said. “That’s how we rated how successful our project was.”
Haq says that what started out as a class assignment evolved into something more over the six-weeks her group was active at Waldenbrooke. “It was a good bond. It wasn’t only community service. It was a relationship,” she said
To read more about the Integrated Work Life Competency class projects, see “Selfless service in the classroom” (MBO, November 2009).
Congratulations to the winning teams:
|TEAM EN FUEGO
||ACDC (Aggies Contributing Dollars for Cans)