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A Semester of Service

Contributed by Madison College (WI) BPA

(Note: This story was written and submitted by Madison College BPA. Your chapter can publish stories about your chapter, too! Click here for information about the BPA.org Custom Chapter System.)

During the 2011 fall semester, the local BPA chapter at Madison College got involved with four community service projects assisting four different organizations: East Madison Community Center, Catholic Multicultural Center, Toys for Tots, and Badger Childhood Cancer Network.  The activities ranged from collecting and donating items to helping parents pick out Christmas gifts for their children to helping set up a holiday party for families who have been touched by childhood cancer.

East Madison Community Center & Catholic Multicultural Center

The Executive Leadership Team (ELT) at Madison College hosts a school wide community service project every year and invites all the student clubs to participate.  This year the East Madison Community Center (EMCC)  was chosen as the beneficiary.  The EMCC has been around since 1966 and offers educational,  recreational, and assistance programs for families, adults, and children.

To make the project more fun, ELT had a prize for the club who collected the most items from November 12  - December 2.  Although the BPA club did not win, they helped the college collect 1935 items!  These items went toward the food, household items and clothing distribution that EMCC hosts on the fourth Tuesday of each month.

Before the Madison College BPA chapter knew about the school wide community service project, they were brainstorming on potential service projects.  One of their members worked as a summer intern six years prior at the Catholic Multicultural Center (CMC) and inquired with the CMC how the club could assist them.  The CMC has been around since 1946 and like the EMCC offers many programs that serve those in need.

The CMC volunteer coordinator suggested the group collect items such as food, personal essentials, and winter accessories.  Once the school wide project was proposed, they decided to collect items for both organizations, but extended the collection deadline for the CMC to the end of the semester.

 Toys for Tots

<br />Advisor Jeff Quinlan and member Emily Cauthen at Toys for Tots event
Advisor Jeff Quinlan and member Emily Cauthen at Toys for Tots event
This is the second year that Madison College BPA volunteered at the Toys for Tots event, which took place during the second full week of December at the Alliant Energy Center.  Toys for Tots is a program that provides gifts during the holiday season to needy children in communities throughout the U.S.  What could be a better way to spend your day than helping parents pick out the perfect gift for their children?

“I wasn’t able to participate last year so I didn’t know what to expect,” says BPA member Emily Cauthen.  “But it was great!  I couldn’t believe how many toys filled the exhibition hall.  And it was fun to learn about the children I was helping pick gifts for.  One of the dads I assisted was so appreciative of a gift card he received for groceries.  He was shocked; not only could he give gifts to his three children, but also have the ability to buy food for his family!”

 Badger Childhood Cancer Network

The fourth community service project was discovered by one of the BPA members while she was at work.  She struck up a conversation with a customer checking out, who happened to be the Holiday Party Chair for the Badger Childhood Cancer Network’s (BCCN) holiday party.  They needed volunteers to prepare for the party in mid-December by donating gifts and gift cards, wrapping gifts, and setting up the space.  Volunteers were also needed during the actual party, which was hosted at the Madison Children’s Museum. handuk terry palmer

<br />Emily Cauthen, Elizabeth Sieger, Stacy Dayton, and Sierra Sieger after wrapping gifts
Emily Cauthen, Elizabeth Sieger, Stacy Dayton, and Sierra Sieger after wrapping gifts
The BCCN (formerly known as Capital Candlelighters) strives to “educate, support, serve and advocate for children with cancer, their families, survivors of childhood cancer and the professionals who care for them” (www.capcan.org).

“BCCN is made up mostly of parents who at one time had a child battling cancer.  They have been there and now do everything they can to lighten the burden on other families,” says Holiday Party Chair Elizabeth Sieger.  Sieger is a parent who knows what it’s like to raise a child fighting cancer.  Her seven year old son, Hudson, began his battle with leukemia when he was 22 months and now is cancer free.

“I was able to sit at the greeting table [and] I enjoyed watching all the children and parents coming in,” shares BPA member Stacy Dayton, who volunteered for gift wrapping and during the holiday party.  “You could tell in their eyes how grateful they were to have people plan a big party for them at no cost.  It was really amazing to just watch the children having so much fun and enjoying themselves.  It was one of the most eye opening experiences I have ever had.”

The BPA chapter at Madison College was able to reach out to four organizations in just a few months and will strive to continue to make a positive impact in their community.  When the spring semester begins in January 2012, they will start planning new community service projects.

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