Good Works by Cheyney University Students Come From the Heart this Thanksgiving Season
Posted By: Elynor Moss on November 28, 2014 |
This Thanksgiving season, Cheyney University (CU) students are putting others before themselves by reaching out to help those in need. Fashion Merchandising and Management (FMM) students, under the direction of FMM Program Coordinator Dr. Vanessa Brantley, are giving the gift of sight by collecting gently used eyeglasses and sunglasses through December 2 for OneSight, a non-profit organization which provides universal vision care to those who can't afford it. Statistics show that 75% percent of world blindness is unnecessary. Experts say that many of the more than 250 million visually impaired people worldwide could easily be helped with a pair of glasses.
Four Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sisters from Cheyney recently joined a couple dozen business executives for a sleep out to benefit homeless youth who are helped by Covenant House in the Germantown section of Philadelphia.
"It was very cold but I don't regret the experience at all," said senior Lachelle Lee Miller who marveled at how much the homeless youth that she talked to looked just like her. "They didn't have rags on. They looked like normal kids. It can happen to anyone. You just never know."
Miller and AKA sisters Chloe Fotenot, Shanaya Hooper and Danay Beasley, all seniors, were each given a box, a sleeping bag and one meal during their all-night stay under the stars in temperatures that went down to 28 degrees. The box served as their home--shelter from the cold. They got to come inside only for the hot meal which they ate with the homeless young people who get help from Convenant House.
"It was very humbling and it made me appreciative of the life that I have," shared Beasley. The girls raised $250 to help the cause, while their national sorority donated $10,000.
Student Activities Intern Nate McCoy assisted CU Student Activities Director Sharon Thorn with a number of community service projects this fall. "Nate was absolutely excellent in coordinating and working with the student organizations," Thorn said, resulting in great participation from the campus community.
A fundraiser for the American Heart Association raised more than $100 from the sale of hearts and red dress pins. CUPPS (Cheyney University Poetry and Song Society) and Alpha Phi Alpha collected loose change for UNICEF to help save the lives of the world's most vulnerable children, and a fall blood drive for the American Red Cross yielded 25 pints of potentially life-saving blood, thanks to the help of AKA and The National Society of Leadership and Success.
In the same spirit of giving back, Cheyney's Keystone Honors Academy Scholars spent two days before Thanksgiving Break at the Children, Youth and Women Shelter in Coatesville, PA, helping feed the hungry. The facility provides emergency shelter and supportive services to 150-200 people per week with a staff of only four.
According to KHA’s Special Projects Coordinator, Nicole Gay, the students sorted, bagged and boxed donated Thanksgiving food items for over 300 families.
"They unloaded turkeys, bagged canned goods, stored surplus inventory and prepared Thanksgiving boxes that were then distributed to families from all over the Coatesville region in time" for holiday preparations, Gay said. Those meals, KHA Scholar Cara Fantini observed, aren't just for adults. “Think about it; this place works with homeless women and their children so we are not just helping the moms, we are helping at a minimum two people,” Fantini theorized.
A second team of KHA students supported the Shelter’s efforts by participating in the weekly food distribution “supermarket” that the site holds on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Over the course of two days, the shelter makes 20,000 pounds of canned and fresh foods available to the community who are invited to come in and “shop” at the various stations. The students worked alongside shelter residents and helped sort, bag and distribute food to more than 150 people.
Honor student Tache Johnson was amazed at the generosity of the shoppers. “At some stations, people were allowed to get up to two of the same items and it was so remarkable to see that some people, instead of taking two items, only took one and said to give the other one to someone who needed it more.”
Student Anitra Jackson was moved by a similar act of generosity. “One woman was given the last two items available and when she turned around, she saw that there was a woman with multiple children and that this woman would not be able to get any of that particular item so she gave her items to her.”
KHA students, who are required to do a certain amount of community service each year, called the trip very moving. In fact, three students are investigating the possibility of hosting a canned food drive to benefit the shelter and other ways to continue serving their larger community. In addition, Thorn is organizing a Red Ribbon day to call attention to World **** Day on December 1 and may soon organize a collection of new and gently used clothing for people in need.
Cheyney University strives to provide opportunities that foster student fellowship and participation in activities that enhance student academic and leadership skills. University officials also seek to prepare students to make positive contributions to the community as responsible citizens. While any time is appropriate to help others, it's especially meaningful during the holiday season when circumstances can leave some people feeling lonely, desperate and unloved.
(pictured top) Cheyney University Keystone Honors Academy students spent 2 days volunteering at a Coatesville, PA shelter (pictured middle) CU student Dymond Coles donates blood in a campus drive to benefit the American Red Cross (pictured bottom) and CU Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sisters spend the night in the streets in an effort to raise money to fight youth homelessness---just some of the efforts to help others this Holiday season
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