With 2015 now in the record books, a look back shows just how busy and…
Many organizations conduct holiday drives requesting toys and clothing for kids, but teens in need are often overlooked. One NIU professor is changing that.
David Henningsen, a professor of organizational and corporate communications, has developed a creative way to gather gifts for teens and educate his students at the same time. Students in his group communication classes are encouraged to make gathering gift donations part of a communications project.
“This provides students with an engaged learning opportunity, as well as letting them work in the community and try to do some good,” Henningsen said.
All donations collected become part of Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois holiday drive whose goal is to provide 1,500 gifts for infants to age 18 in foster care. LCFS is a non-profit organization that works with children state-wide in the foster system. This is the fifth year Henningsen’s students have participated in the drive.
This year students collected over 500 gifts ranging from cosmetic kits to footballs to board games. Classroom teams developed a business plan around the gift project, then analyzed the team process. Teams were not required to make the drive part of their business plan. Five teams did though, with one team raising more than the other four combined.
NIU senior Michael Pergola, a communications major, said his team advertised their drive during homecoming week, and put out collection boxes at the YMCA and at the football practice center. They collected 247 gifts, earning a 50-point bonus for being the top gift-getting team.
“We were surprised by the amount of gifts we received. We heard they want to keep the drive going at the football practice center next year,” Pergola said.
Last week Henn
ingsen loaded up his van and delivered the gifts to the Belvidere offices of the LCFS.
Leslie Lopez, associate director of annual giving for LCFS said the organization is thankful for the gifts that help them serve a special segment.
“We have a harder time getting gifts for the older children in our care and we feel it is important for those kids to have gift under the tree as well,” Lopez said.
Lopez explained the LSFS sets up a toy store with all the donations they have received. Caseworkers then select items they know their clients will enjoy. Gifts are then delivered to foster parents so they may wrap them up and put them under their trees.
“The end result so amazing for the children in our care. It helps to brighten our Christmas,” Lopez said.