Student Organizations Enjoy Giving to Others during the Holidays
The holidays are often a time for giving. During the recent holiday season, SFCC’s student organizations showed the spirit of the holidays by participating in a variety of service projects to help those less fortunate in the college’s tri-county service district.
Every year, the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honor Society hosts an angel tree for the residents of The Oaks at Avon, an assisted living facility in Avon Park. The students in PTK started the angel tree when the organization was under the advisement of Judy Zemko, chair, SFCC Advising and Counseling Center. “The students chose to do an angel tree for the Oaks because there were many angel trees done for children, but they felt senior citizens were lost and forgotten during the holidays,” Zemko said. Now under the advisement of James McBride, professor, mathematics, PTK continues this annual project. “The students are compassionate, and they want to contribute to people who can’t get out on their own. We are the main contributors from the community to the Oaks.” PTK also hosts a Christmas party when they deliver the gifts to the Oaks. “The residents really enjoy it and are very grateful, and the students enjoy doing this for them, too,” McBride said.
Another group that participates in a reoccurring project is SFCC’s African American Association (AAA). Each fall, the group chooses six elderly people who are in need from local churches and provides care packages that contain basic necessities as well as $15 gift cards to Winn Dixie to help them purchase a holiday meal. “The students really enjoy this project,” said Felicia Dozier, AAA advisor. “It’s our way of giving back to the community.”
The International Student Organization (ISO) wanted to help families in need enjoy a holiday dinner, so the club held a dance festival in November that helped raise money and collect goods for the Highlands County Food Bank to help with its supply for the holidays. “The students saw how the economy has affected our community and they wanted to do something to help,” said Eddie Cuencas, ISO advisor. “We also had participation from some of the other student groups, which sold concessions, and we had a variety of different church and community groups who participated as well. It was a fun way to spend a Saturday and help our community.”
The SFCC Highlands Campus student organizations were not the only groups that wanted to help those in need during the holiday season. The H.C. Panther Ambassadors from the SFCC Hardee Campus participated in many community service projects which began with a yard sale in October. The yard sale helped the club raise funds that were used to purchase eight frozen turkeys for the Hardee Help Center to distribute to needy families for Thanksgiving. “Our students see the poverty that is in this area, and some even experience it within their own families,” said Fernando Islas, H.C. Panthers advisor. “They chose to make the donation to the Hardee Help Center because the center knows which families are the most in need and would distribute the donations to them.”
The H.C. Panther Ambassadors also participated in Operation Christmas Child. The program is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, a nondenominational evangelical organization that provides spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. During the Christmas season, Samaritan’s Purse asks for donations in the way of shoe boxes filled with care packages and toys for children in impoverished areas. In addition to the community yard sale, the H.C. Panthers held various fundraising events earlier in the fall term to fund this project.
“Our students don’t often hear about people their age helping out in their communities,” Islas said, “so it’s important to many of them to show that even though they are young, they care about others as well.”