Even in social isolation, Bryan-College Station philanthropists are still coming together to help the community in various ways.
Employing technology, solidarity and a little creativity, local groups are working to educate, advocate and financially support members of Brazos County. There is no doubt this virus has disrupted the mindset of the community, and it can be easy to feel panicked in the statistics on the news. In the midst of the coronavirus, here are a few philanthropic efforts from members of Bryan-College Station.
The online educational resources of the Children’s Museum of the Brazos Valley
As local schools close down through, at the earliest, April 3, many parents are left with the hefty vocation of temporarily homeschooling their children. Ashley Kortis, executive director for the Children’s Museum of the Brazos Valley, said her nonprofit provides projects for parents who are struggling to engage and educate their kids.
“Even though the Museum can't be open, our mission remains as a partnership for education for families in the Brazos Valley,” Kortis said. “Moms and dads have been thrown into becoming ‘teachers,’ and they might feel ill-equipped for this job. But we offer many educational options to help parents. For instance, we have asked local celebrities, like athletes, actors and authors, to make videos of them reading storybooks. We are hosting our regularly scheduled events like ‘Discovery on the Green’ online; also online are videos of children’s yoga and science experiments.”
In an optimistic take, Kortis said this outbreak can be a real-life learning opportunity for Bryan-College Station kids to see creativity and adaptation in action.
“At this moment, we can teach children perseverance,” Kortis said. “I always say, ‘Master your circumstance or your circumstances are going to master you.’ Now, adults must embody that quote’s example for the kids. The Children’s Museum hopes to be a catalyst for learning, and we will continue to provide unique educational opportunities, with a local spin.”
Kappa Alpha Theta’s virtual ‘Rock the CASA 5K’ to help abused and neglected children
Child professional services junior Leah Felton advocates for Kappa Alpha Theta’s virtual Rock the CASA 5K Race on April 18, benefiting Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and Theta Foundation philanthropies.
“Participants register online at our website as usual, but you can think of the registration fee more as a pledge now,” Felton said. “By registering, you are pledging to run or walk. Proceeds go to support CASA's mission of advocating for the best interest of abused and neglected children under the court's jurisdiction until each child is placed into a safe, nurturing and permanent home.”
Felton said hospital statistics show that child abuse is increasing, and experts are linking that to stressors such as the coronavirus and the economy.
“CASA strives to ensure that children put into the foster care system are cared for,” Felton said. “It is heartbreaking to see the financial impacts of this time on non-profits like CASA, so every donation and word of advocacy is greatly important.”
Although the 5K initially seems unconventional, a virtual fun run acts as another instance of the local community utilizing technology to connect and carry on in the new norm, Felton said.
“Technology has allowed Theta to fundraise for our philanthropies,” Felton said. “Rock the CASA has been supporting CASA and our community for 34 years now, and we won’t let the unexpected stop our 35th year of advocating for children that are unable to do so themselves.”
The fundraising of Aggies Help to support the businesses and organizations in the Bryan-College Station area
Within the Panhellenic community, Aggie women are working to keep small businesses afloat during this period of financial upheaval due to the coronavirus. Business and marketing junior Justyn Tedder, along with two Greek sisters Lana Picone and Julia Bybee, who helped form this relief effort, announced a GoFundMe-powered fundraiser called Aggies Help, which functions as the methodizing intermediary between donors and philanthropies.
“Aggies Help was started with the intention of rallying Aggies to support businesses, locals and organizations in the Bryan-College Station area,” Tedder said. “We started Aggies Help to act as a bridge between the student body at A&M, who will raise the money, and the Brazos Valley COVID-19 Relief Fund, who knows how to best allocate the funding we are receiving.”
Underscoring the heartening and collective drive that Aggies possess, Tedder said all members of the Aggie family have a duty to stand up for those in need during this time.
“The Bryan-College Station area is exceptionally community-minded, especially in times as such,” Tedder said. “Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for students to give without having to determine where the best place to give is.”