Social site helps battle poverty

While social networking is a great method for keeping in contact with friends, it has also become a convenient tool for promoting events and causes like fighting world poverty.

“Our goal is to make people aware of the difference they can make,” said Dr. Jim King, dean of the College of Business, who is the administrator for UMHB Against Poverty, a Facebook cause and group.

“The thing we want to (do) is stay up with the technology that allows us to communicate with those who are most interested, so Facebook is an important vehicle,” he said.

King teaches a freshman seminar class based on social activities with spiritual foundations Commerce and Christ. Last fall, he assigned his students to submit videos about how they could make an impact in the world.

Graphic by Tim Lytle

“A number of students said it gave them hope to know that they could make a difference now, not just when they graduate,” King said. “I had some freshmen who were really passionate, and this generation is really into being engaged in making a difference and not just talking about it.”

Fighting poverty was a key issue that rose to the top of the students’ ideas. A backbone for the effort is sophomore business major Kendall Doles.

“Poverty is a lot more present than we think, and it’s one of those things going on around the world that we have the power to change,” Doles said. “We want to start off by making people aware. Awareness leads to action.”

Doles is a part of the Facebook leadership team, made up of 14 students with different majors all with a passion for alleviating poverty through various projects.

“We’ve had a bunch of ideas and haven’t decided if we want to make it a school organization or not,” Doles said. “But we want to start off by making people aware, like hosting concerts and sending people out on trips.”

The UMHB Against Poverty cause was officially launched last spring.

“It’s interesting because about this time, we were honoring two graduates, Sam Henry and Jamie Wallace, for their service,” King said.

On Oct. 5, the UMHB alumni, Henry and Wallace, launched hopemongers.org, an online donation spot that supports various projects helping the poor.

“They were really supportive of us moving forward and an inspiration to students,” King said. “With their encouragement and the interest from some upperclassmen, I set up the cause with the intention of being a student-led group. But it’s not only for students,” he added. “Faculty, staff, alums and friends of the university are welcome to join, too.”

The group has more than 420 members already. On the Facebook page are links to other local
and international organizations highlighting options for students to actively serve or donate to.

“Students are taxed with all types of opportunities to get involved in different areas, so the whole purpose of this group is to help students fi nd out how they can attack poverty using the skills they already have,” King said.

Advocacy makes a difference, members say.

“When people become aware, their hearts are touched and their time and dollars will open up more freely,” King said. “We want students … and others to find a niche that fits them where they can use their gifts and talents to fight poverty.”

Senior nursing major Jessica Gallagher, a member of the group, said she is thankful for the easy access to information.

“If it’s all there in one place, especially Facebook, we are more likely to plug in. When Web sites are linked on the page, we’re easily able to see what projects meet up with our time-frame and skills,” she said.

Students have already volunteered at shelters and with lunch programs, but leadership anticipates more student involvement as opportunities arise, especially locally.

“Belton has some areas in deep poverty, and it’s important that we remember we weren’t just called to the ends of the earth, but also to our homeland and our local cities,” King said. “It’s important we have a comprehensive view — UMHB is against all types of poverty, and we are pro every type of way to overcome it in terms of business, health care and education.”

Author: Crystal Donahue

A senior from Lago Vista, Texas, Crystal enjoys hanging out at the lake with friends, eating ice-pops, having conversations over hot chocolate with marshmallows, going on random road-trips and watching Gilmore Girls with her mom. She is double majoring in mass communication/journalism and Spanish. Post graduation, Crystal plans on getting her master's and working abroad in a Spanish-speaking country. Having served in various positions on The Bells, Crystal is now the editor-in-chief. She enjoys feature and sports writing.

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