After 19 different events in 16 different cities, the first KU Cares Month of Service brought Jayhawks closer to the communities they call home.
The KU Alumni Association set out to have participants in the Month of Service share the spirit of Thanksgiving by giving back, both in their networks and in the KU community.
A portion of all membership dues collected during the month of November was earmarked for the Wounded Warrior scholarship fund. Thanks to the generosity of those who joined, renewed, or donated, more than $5,500 will be given to the scholarship fund that helps qualified veterans and their family pursue their education at KU.
Continuing on the theme of an earlier post, we wanted to highlight some of the events where Jayhawks made a difference.
Wichita: Ronald McDonald House
Members of the Wichita Jayhawk Network came together to help those staying in the Ronald McDonald house. Volunteers brought, prepared and served dinner to the families with children in nearby hospitals.
Milwaukee: Fill the Freezer
Local KU alumni joined forces with the United Way to fight hunger at the first annual “Fill the Freezer” event. Network leader Jay Craig, b’85 g’87, brought area Jayhawk volunteers together with local chefs to prepare frozen meals for those in transitional housing and family support programs.
Phoenix: St. Vincent De Paul’s Watkins Kitchen
More than 15 Jayhawks gave their Saturday morning to prepare meals for the homeless at St. Vincent De Paul’s Watkins Kitchen. Phoenix Network Leader Chris Colyer, b’04 l’09, thanked everyone for representing KU and showing compassion for their community.
San Antonio: Haven for Hope
Area alumni put on their Jayhawk gear, along with aprons and gloves, and served food to those in need in downtown San Antonio. Network leader Morgan Bertram, d’02, thanked those who helped feed 383 at Haven for Hope, a nonprofit dedicated to helping the homeless find a new beginning.
While the KU Cares Month of Service is over, Jayhawks can get together to give time and talents to their communities anytime! Visit the KU Cares page for more information, and reach out to your local network leaders. View our Flickr album of these events and more from the KU Cares Month of Service:
As the KU Cares Month of Service continues, the pictures and stories from the events are rolling in. We’re sharing a few from the first events to show how Jayhawks are making a difference in their communities. Visit the KU Cares Month of Service homepage to learn how you can participate in giving back to those in need.
Portland: Friends of Trees
The Portland Jayhawks joined forces with other volunteers on a misty Saturday afternoon to plant more than 200 trees in southeast Portland. Network volunteer Meg Viezbicke, c’97, organized the event and praised Friends of Trees for helping ensure the Jayhawks could be involved. Friends of Trees, a local nonprofit, aims to to inspire community stewardship of the area’s urban forest by planting and caring for trees in both neighborhoods and green spaces.
Seattle: Food Lifeline
Network volunteer Deanna Marks, b’16 e’16, brought together 10 Seattle Jayhawks who donned aprons and hairnets over their KU gear and packed 1,420 meals for their community at Food Lifeline, a nonprofit that provides meals to residents of Western Washington. Food Lifeline is a member of Feeding America, a nationwide network of over 200 food banks.
Tampa Bay: Feeding America
The Tampa Bay ’Hawks also partnered with Feeding America by collecting over 100 pounds of food. Network leader Chris Longino, b’06, thanked those who brought donations to their watch site for football and basketball watch parties. “I am always impressed with the generosity and goodwill of the Jayhawk Nation,” Longino said. “Hopefully, we can plan many future opportunities for our KU group to give back to our adopted Tampa Bay community.”
San Diego: Sunset Cliffs beach cleanup
San Diego Jayhawks spent a Saturday morning by the ocean, but instead of lounging in the sun they opted to beautify the beach. Network volunteer Stephanie Shehi, b’86, partnered with the San Diego Coastkeeper organization, which helps keep Sunset Cliffs Park clean and beautiful for the community. The network picked up 20 pounds of trash, enjoyed stunning views, and heard lots of “Rock Chalks” from bystanders.
The easiest way to participate in the KU Cares Month of Service is to join or renew your Alumni Association membership. During the month of November, a portion of all dues will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Scholarship Fund. Join, renew, or upgrade your membership to participate in this initiative!
The KU Alumni Association is proud to announce a new campaign this November for networks to give back to their communities. The KU Cares Month of Service will invite networks nationwide to showcase their pride for their alma mater and their cities by volunteering their time and talents in philanthropic events.
“Whether that be volunteering at a soup kitchen, doing a canned food drive, or a public area clean-up, this will be a great way to rally Jayhawks around causes that will benefit their communities,” said Danny Woods, assistant director of legacy and alumni programs.
Other ways to participate in KU Cares
In addition to the volunteer events across national and local networks, if Jayhawks join, renew or upgrade their membership during the month of November a portion of their dues will go to a campus charity.
“Volunteerism is something that KU alumni are passionate about and already doing across the nation, but what excites me the most is giving alumni an avenue to amplify what they are already doing,” Woods said.
With the Houston floods receding, local Jayhawks are mobilizing to get to work.
The Houston Jayhawks Facebook group has been active with posts from Houston residents asking for help, with even more posts by locals asking how they can help. With their positive energy and willingness to get their hands dirty, Jayhawks assisted the family of Allyn Risley, e’72, 2016 Fred Ellsworth medallion recipient. Risley’s step-daughter, Erica Frost, sustained serious flooding at her house. Frost’s sister, Natalie Morgan, j’06, reached out to the Facebook group from her home in Kansas City.
Morgan’s request for help for her sister was met with multiple Houston-area Jayhawks joining friends and family of Frost for a day of hard work removing damaged flooring and drywall. The altruism of the group of alumni impressed Frost, who even overheard a friend say “the Houston Jayhawks must have some sort of emergency whistle that they sound, because they all showed up and jumped right in!”
Watch party for a cause
Megan Gile, c’11, organized the annual watch party for the first KU football game, but knew she had to add something to give back to their community.
“We decided to host our annual football kickoff watch party to add a piece of normalcy to Houston,” Gile said. “It’s an event we host every year and even with the hurricane and terrible flooding across Texas and Houston, it’s important to stay united and give everyone something to look forward too. We added the donation drive as way for Houston Jayhawks to give back to Houstonians. Beyond donating their time, donating items for shelters is a great way for Houston Jayhawks to give back.”
The Houston Jayhawks set up a donations box at their alumni bar and asked attendees to fill the box with new socks and underwear.
“The watch party and donation drive was incredibly successful,” Gile said. “We had Jayhawks drive in from all across Houston to attend. More profoundly, regulars at Coaches Pub, our alumni bar in Houston, left the bar and returned with donation items once they found out what we were doing. Houstonians, Jayhawk or not, are really banding together to help each other during this time of need.”
When asked about the strong turnout and even stronger support for the people of Houston, Megan pointed to their alma mater.
“I think it’s about helping our own and how our bond as Kansas alumni is different. Being in a state so far from home for most of us, as most of us are not Texas natives, we really stick together and are proud to be Jayhawks. We are proud to be Kansas alumni and proud to be Houstonians, helping anyway we can. Come hell or high water, we will get through this.”