How can we help building community among our student populations? How about working together for a cause! So how does this connect to a trunk stuffed with clothing and supplies?
After a wave of torrential storms hit South Georgia in January, many recovery groups sprang in to action, including one here in Lowder Hall.
Erica Stallings, career coach in the Office of Professional and Career Development, calls South Georgia home and wanted to help those personally affected by not one, but two, tornadoes.
“I consider Moultrie and Camilla, both within 45 minutes of Albany, home,” says Stallings. “While I was in high school, Camilla was devastated by a tornado, and I witnessed friends and families finding themselves without basic necessities of food, clothing, and shelter.”
On January 22, Georgia declared a state of emergency after twenty people were killed in tornadic activity. Stallings wanted to find a way to help neighbors while helping engage students in a strategic goal of Harbert College.
“The OPCD office’s focus is professional and career development, centered around the development of a person and how he or she interacts with the world around them,” says Stallings. “Experiences such as working toward a common philanthropic goal help foster a sense of community, which helps develop the student as a whole person.”
For many students, feeling a sense of community at college can also help protect from isolation, so, after the storms, Stallings gathered the OPCD coaches for a meeting to discuss how to assist.
“We gave students ways to donate items or make monetary donations to relief organizations,” said Stallings. “We provided links to the local United Way and Red Cross chapters to students, and the OPCD was set up as a drop-off location for items needed to rebuild Georgia communities.”
Students had two weeks to make donations, and the drop-off area quickly filled.
“The most amazing thing is that we had students outside of our classes donate, as well as faculty and students outside of the college making donations,” says Stallings.
Stallings drove to Albany, Georgia, to drop off donations.
“We were barely able to fit everything in my vehicle, and it took very strategic packing to make sure all the doors could close and I could still fit in the car and drive safely,” says Stallings. “The diverse array of items donated was astounding, and we still have students donating, even though the deadline has passed.”
In total, 124 cubic feet of non-perishable food, clothing, children’s toys, blankets, diapers, and toiletries were donated.
“I remember how something as simple as blanket makes an impact and provided a moment of comfort after a tornado,” says Stallings, “and I now have a second car load of items to deliver, which surpasses my wildest expectations for how Harbert College could help.”