Though Thanksgiving may be over, the time to give thanks and to give back never seems to end at Marquette. Student organizations on campus are doing just that during this holiday season. Numerous organizations are striving to make a difference in the Marquette and Milwaukee community.
One of these organizations is Camp Kesem. As a part of a national organization with over 70 chapters around the country, this program is relatively new to campus, but is making great strides in their work. Student led, Kesem supports children with parents who have cancer by hosting a free, week-long camp once a year. The remainder of the year is used for fundraising in order to send campers there with no cost to their families.
Bridget Moffett, a junior in the College of Engineering, began the journey to bring Kesem to campus her freshman year.
“My brother was at the University of Minnesota as a member of this organization,” Moffett said. “It really inspired me to see how much he had learned and had grown from being a part of this (Kesem).”
With this inspiration, Moffett and the other members of Kesem look to accomplish an organization set goal of $1,000. On Tuesday the program hosted a #GivingTuesday series where students could learn about Kesem and donate. The organization passed their goal by raising $2,388.57.
This money will help fund this chapter’s very first camp next summer, in June 2016. With a staggering fundraiser amount, Moffett realizes just how important Kesem is to her and the many students involved.
“I just wanted to be a part of a service organization but couldn’t find anything that fit my interests,” Moffett explained. “When I found Camp Kesem, it really hit home with me and inspired me to want to change these children’s lives.”
Another organization on campus that is using the holiday season to create change in the Marquette community is Midnight Run.
The program’s mission stems from Matthew 25 and focuses on hunger and homelessness.
Sheila Connelly, a junior in the College of Health Sciences, explained what this mission means to her in detail.
“The mission goes beyond the simple act of serving a meal or volunteering in a shelter,” Connelly said. “It aims at creating agents of positive social change by forming positive relations with members of this community.”
The program serves as an outreach opportunity so students can connect with the Milwaukee community.
“It is living out Magis by doing more,” Connelly said. “It is creating men and women with and for others. It is eye-opening to create not just a cordial relationship but some of the truest friendships with people from different backgrounds.”
Multiple events will allow students to act out Midnight Run’s service theme for December, which is education and advocacy. This includes a March Against Poverty and volunteer reflection. Midnight Run aims to assist students in living out the University’s pillars outside the classroom.
“It is the first experience for some to show the privilege that exists in our society,” Connelly said. “How cyclical poverty can be. It (Midnight Run) addresses the needs that exists in Milwaukee and acts as a vehicle for students to access those issues hands on. This allows them to become passionate and strive to fight against the injustices in Milwaukee.”
Connelly said she is proud to have learned about the change Midnight Run creates and its ideas about the pillars of Marquette and how it affects the Milwaukee community.
“I am a part of Midnight Run because I feel that it is my duty to admit to the privilege I have had in my life and to learn about the experiences of the others around me,” Connelly said. “It allows me to meet people I would have otherwise just passed on the street. It teaches me to try to look at the world from other perspectives than my own, and that is invaluable.”
A third organization committed to giving back is Circle K. The national organization’s mission is to develop a global network of college students committed to service, which they will carry throughout their lifetime.
Erin McCullough, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences is the historian of Circle K on Marquette’s campus. McCullough and other students are looking forward to two major events in December. This includes the Metro-Southeast Rally where the club will head to a nursing home and the Kiwanis Family Hockey Night, which is hosted in Madison. All proceeds will go the Eliminate Project, another organization that wants to eliminate neonatal tetanus. The group also hosts the Homeless Outreach every Saturday in Milwaukee.
Circle K continues to look for many ways to impact the community around them, and hopes to join forces with other Marquette organizations in the process.
As the group continues to create students of leadership and service, McCullough sees how this program can enact change in the community and in students.
“Circle K allows for students to give back to the community while staying humble,” McCullough said. “I’m a part of this organization not because of what I can do for Circle K, but because what it has done for me. It has made me a more loving and respectful person.”