American Red Cross representative LaVonne LeBlanc personally thanked the Freshman Year Seminar (FRYS) 101 classes at the University of Louisiana at Monroe on Nov. 27 for their generous $5,000 donation to the northeast Louisiana community.
LeBlanc, director of administration of the Northeast Chapter of the American Red Cross, pointed out the tremendous goodwill made possible by such giving. “If the goal was to find an agency where you could somehow make an impact on lives, you did that. This money will go directly into the hands of people who have sustained a disaster. This money really impacts our neighbors, the people in our community who suffer single-family disasters like a house fire. It will go to provide food, money and emergency shelter, and help them on the road to recovery. This will make a great impact into the northeast Louisiana community, and I want to thank you.”
The donation is a second annual tradition on the part of the FRYS students; each year, those classes have a community service component, raising funds with the intended recipient differing. The $5,000 donation topped last year’s $2,000 gift to the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home.
Barbara Michaelides, director of the Student Success Center, also praised the students. “I firmly believe that this community service project is one we should all be involved in because as individuals, we can collectively make quite a difference. Being able to donate over $5,000 to the American Red Cross says something very special about this class of students.”
The idea for 2007’s donation was developed in conjunction with Chris Harris, assistant professor of English, who received a Service Learning grant incorporating such a project into the Learning Communities.
President James Cofer emphasized the project’s significance for ULM’s students. “The service-learning component is important, so important that we start our freshmen with that experience. We really appreciate everyone engaged in this opportunity, and especially for choosing the American Red Cross.”
Mary Elizabeth Sewell, coordinator of First Year Experience, stated that community service is a large component of FRYS. “We strive to teach our students that if they work together as a group, they can really make a difference in this world.”
All FRYS classes worked together beside the Learning Communities with disaster relief as the focus. The students asked donors for $1 in exchange for “FRYS boxes”; their names and boxes are included as project supporters, on display in the Student Union Building.
The section that raised the most money determined the beneficiary. The winners, FRYS section 50, taught by Anna James, a Student Success Center academic advisor and instructor of communication studies, chose the Red Cross, focusing on that organization’s crucial role in disaster relief.
In addition to last fall’s $2,000 donation, ULM FRYS students created care packages last spring for soldiers specifically based out of Louisiana using the anysoldier.com program.