Town Gown: JSU students give back this holiday season


By Heather Greene, a graduate assistant in the Office of Public Relations at JSU  

With the Christmas holidays comes the end of the semester, which can be an extremely stressful time for students. However, many students around Jacksonville State University’s campus are also finding time and opportunities to give back to their community and the world during this holiday season. 

JSU’s Circle K International has two service projects going on that are geared towards the Christmas season. The club held a card making party and made over 200 homemade Christmas cards, which they will be taking around to local living facilities when they go caroling. They have also conducted a semester-long project called “Crayons for Kids,” a campus-wide drive collecting crayons, coloring books, movies, toys, and monetary donations, which will all be taken to Birmingham Children’s Hospital during the Christmas season. For children who have to frequent the hospital quite often, sometimes just a pack of crayons and a new coloring book can bring a smile to their faces. Though individuals are invited to participate, the drive is held as a competition between campus organizations and the group with the highest number of donations will accompany CKI down to Birmingham to deliver the crayons, coloring books, and other items. Gamma Delta Iota won this year’s Crayons for Kids drive and will help deliver the donations to Children’s.

“Donating to Children’s is so rewarding,” says CKI’s president, Larissa Kellum. “The kids at Children’s Hospital need something to help make their hospital experience a little better and easier. ‘Crayons for Kids’ is a great way to be a direct part of that. Also, seeing the giving sprit of the JSU students has really been an encouragement. JSU is the friendliest campus, filled with wonderful students who have willing hearts to help.”

According to Jade Wagner, Vice-President of Student Senate for the Student Government Association, the SGA is also spreading Christmas cheer at a local nursing home. They have adopted Piedmont Health Care and Rehab Facility and created Christmas cards for every resident and worker at the home. They visited the nursing home with Cocky and caroled, accompanied by a saxophonist from the JSU’s marching band, The Southerners.

JSU organizations are not just giving back to the local community, but around the world. The JSU History Club and Phi Alpha Theta will be conducting their annual Guatemala Children Shoe Box Program. They will be collecting shoeboxes filled with items for children in Guatemala, which will be given to the children for Christmas. Everyone is invited to participate and fill a shoebox with things for a child such as: small toys, school supplies, hygiene products, and various other items. However, there are a few items that should not be sent overseas, such as: used items, toy weapons, perishable foods, liquids, any medications or breakable glass items. The deadline to turn in shoeboxes is December 15. For more information about this project, please contact Dr. George Lauderbaugh at

Perhaps the holiday event that best brings the campus together and ushers in the Christmas season at Jacksonville State is “JSU in Lights,” which took place at President and Mrs. Meehan’s house on November 26. Various campus organizations and individuals, as well as the surrounding community, come together in this annual event to light the campus for the holidays and participate in an annual toy drive, sponsored by the SGA. All attendees were invited to bring toys for area children who need a little cheer this Christmas. The donated toys were given to the Jacksonville Christian Outreach Center.

Also conducting a toy drive was Sodexo Campus Dining Services, which collected toys for Toys for Tots through the last day of class. Sodexo serves as a great partner in giving with the University during the holidays, having recently conducted a Helping Hands Food Drive, as well.

So often we get caught up in our own hectic holiday shopping schedule that we forget this is the season of giving. Sometimes we may feel like Charlie Brown, searching for the true meaning of Christmas. Jacksonville State University invites the community to join us in giving back this holiday season. 

This article originally appeared in the "Town and Gown" of the Jacksonville News.