Students apply what they learn in class to helping others in need
March 23, 2011
Lisle, Illinois ~ Hungry, homeless and poverty-stricken people in one of the most affluent areas in the state?
That news is difficult for many college students, who are often insulated from the grimmer realities of their immediate world, to come to grips with. What is not as difficult, and what has become a rewarding experience for many, is implementing new and creative ways to help those less fortunate.
Students in Jane Crabtree's Organizational Behavior classes and those in Linda Kanter's Management courses at Benedictine University are learning the four functions of business management – planning, organizing, leading and controlling – while organizing activities to benefit organizations like the Woodridge Food Pantry, DuPage PADS and Illinois Support Our Troops.
During the Fall 2010 semester, students supported Illinois Support Our Troops by collecting $1,205 in cash, $175 in gift cards and 2,211 pounds of donated items – everything from golf balls, toothbrushes and candy to 295 pairs of socks and 361 bags of caramel corn – that were sent to military men and women serving overseas.
This semester, one group of students from Kanter's Management 300 course is planning and organizing projects to benefit the West Suburban Community Pantry. The Pantry serves more than 750 families in Glen Ellyn, Lombard, Downers Grove, Elmhurst and surrounding communities. The pantry provides food, personal care items, baby and school supplies, childsafety and free car seat distribution and nutritional classes.
The group includes sophomore Management and Organizational Behavior major Michael Ye from the Ji Lin province of China; Vanessa Clark, a junior Business major from Bolingbrook; Shallu Gupta, a junior Business major from Woodridge; Samer Abukhaled, a junior Marketing major from Orland Park; and Kevin Glowiak, a junior Psychology major from Naperville.
The group learned that the pantry, as a 501(c)(3) organization, can buy a ton of food for only $360. They made fundraising rather than food collection their main focus, and helping others their ultimate goal.
"We are trying to make the world a better place by implementing our individual skills and working as a group to efficiently accomplish our goals," Glowiak said. "There is a greater moral that tells us that we should serve the needs of others. It wasn't until I had done so that I realized why that was. You begin to see yourself in others."
The project has benefitted Kanter's students almost as much as the charitable organizations in the area, she said.
"It seems to bring together our students with a common theme," Kanter said. "They work together to achieve their goals and help each other. I have also had comments from transfer students that this is their first class at Benedictine University and it has allowed them to get to know other students."
This type of work demonstrates the Benedictine values of living in community and stewardship, which adds to the University's commitment of teaching students to be socially responsible leaders. The project also helps students feel better about themselves.
"Putting others' needs before my own makes me feel like a better person," Gupta said. "I want to give others the same opportunity with which I was blessed."
People who are interested in supporting the students' project to help the West Suburban Community Pantry can contact Glowiak at (630) 484-8735 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. They can also contact the pantry directly at (630) 512-9221 or visiting their website at www.wcpinc.org.
Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 53 undergraduate majors, 13 graduate and four doctorate programs. Benedictine University is ranked as a Top School in the Midwest (11th in Illinois) for Master's Universities, 12th in the Midwest (and sixth in Illinois) for Racial Diversity, and eighth in Illinois for Freshmen Retention for 2011 by U.S. News & World Report.