Chicago, IL,
12:59 PM

Students Tell Their Stories of Giving on TOMS Blog

Can an impoverished country’s health problems be solved by selling cupcakes? Probably not completely, but for a group of students in a First Year Seminar class, it was worth a try. Now they will have an international audience following their class project to make a difference in impoverished nations.

Assistant professor Serena Wadhwa gave her class an assignment to pick an impoverished nation and through a creative business idea or a charitable endeavor, find a way to help.

She thought the project was in sync with the theme of GSU’s "One Book, One University" selection "Start Something That Matters." The book, by TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie, uses the story of TOMS as a blueprint to inspire readers and show them how to go about starting something that matters by offering insight and motivation.

Thinking that the students’ efforts would make a good story for the blog at TOMS, Wadhwa contacted the company. The student’s blog posts describing their projects will begin running this month on TOMS “One-For-One” blog.

The posts will follow the efforts of two groups of students in the class. Keyearra Tucker’s group came up with “Handy Hearts,” a kit filled with medical supplies such as gauze, peroxide, and ointments that will be distributed in Bangui, the capital city of the Central African Republic. Ian S. Kendall and Amber Roti’s group created “The Sweetest Care Package.” They sold mini-cupcakes on campus and are using the funds to create care packages for needy families in the African nation of Chad. The packages contain greatly needed hygiene items.

For Kendall, participating in the blog is an exciting way to see the group’s project become better known and he hopes it will inspire others to take the time to think about places in the world they may not have heard about. “The idea of a blog is a good way to reach people who would have no idea about the health concerns of a small African nation. I found that once we got started on this, that students want to give back on an even bigger level,” he said.

Roti was enlisted to make the mini-cupcakes because of her baking skills. She would like to continue giving back after her class project is complete. On a more local level, she thinks creating care packages containing dental and hygiene products for the homeless in the Chicago area would be something she would like to try. “It’s easy to do things like this. You can’t be afraid of failing. Start with an idea and develop it,” she said.