CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – As the nationwide tradition of shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday becomes a bigger part of the holiday season, so does the tradition of service and giving to those who need it most. More than 200 Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s staff and faculty took part in #GivingTuesday, a global day of charity celebrated the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Islander staff and faculty volunteered more than 527 hours at more than a dozen Coastal Bend nonprofits, including some which were impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
“Many organizations participate in Giving Tuesday by hosting a fundraiser, but we’ve chosen to give of our time,” said Ann DeGaish, Associate Vice President of Student Engagement and Success & Dean of Students at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. “We feel like it’s important to be out in our community, meeting our neighbors, seeing the effects of our work and also being a role model of service and leadership to our students.”
A&M-Corpus Christi volunteer efforts around the Coastal Bend included sorting food donations at the Coastal Bend Food Bank, putting up Christmas decorations at Mission 911, grooming horses at the Glenoak Therapeutic Riding Center, clearing hurricane debris and brush in Port Aransas, walking dogs at the Gulf Coast Humane Society, wrapping gifts for children who attend Gloria Hicks Elementary School, serving meals at Loaves and Fishes, donating blood to the Coastal Bend Blood Center and more.
One of the volunteer groups assisted at five homes in Rockport. One resident included Islander alumna Marjorie Blackard ‘55. The 84-year-old, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Education and History, said she lived through four major hurricanes in her lifetime, with Harvey affecting her home and property more than the other storms. It was pure coincidence that Islander volunteers were assigned to assist Blackard, as worksites were predetermined by a Rockport church assisting in coordinating volunteer crews.
“I was shocked to see so much damage remains in Rockport, even four months after the storm,” said Suzie Bazemore, University Center and Student Activities (UCSA) Administrative Assistant who volunteered in Rockport.
While the volunteer crew helped Blackard clear debris from her home, raked up leaves and made improvements to her yard, she reminisced about her time as a University of Corpus Christi student.
“I have only great memories of my time at UCC. While I was a student, I worked on campus and earned 50 cents an hour,” Blackard said. “I also lived in the dorms. I loved every minute of it. If I ever came back to campus, I’m sure I wouldn’t recognize it. But all the changes are for the best.”
Katheryn Paynter, UCSA Events Coordinator, also volunteered in Rockport.
“It really is a small world,” said Paynter. “It was neat to hear about Mrs. Blackard’s experiences on Ward Island and to be able to help someone who really needs help.”
This is the fourth year Texas A&M-Corpus Christi staff and faculty have participated in #GivingTuesday. Participation since 2013 has increased by 400 percent.
“We appreciate our University leadership, which allowed so many of us to step out of our professional roles during the business day to serve our community in a variety of ways,” said DeGaish.