Hundreds of people in Rogers, Mayes and Washington counties will have something warm to wear this winter thanks to two student organizations at Rogers State University.
In November, the Student Government Association and Epsilon Sigma Alpha partnered together to organize Hunter’s Helping Hoodies, a drive to collect coats and hoodies on all RSU campuses to benefit children, women and men in need. The coats are being donated to Safenet Services in Claremore, Bartlesville HANDS in Bartlesville and St. Mark’s Catholic Church in Pryor. Hunter the Hillcat, RSU’s mascot, was the inspiration for the drive’s catchy title.
The idea was proposed by SGA President Ofelia Chavoya, a public administration – public affairs junior from Pryor.
“I wanted to create a new event SGA could do to help out local kids in the community,” Chavoya said. “The response has been great. So many students are bringing in coats and using it as a way to serve the community.”
Chavoya said the original goal was to collect 2,000 coats before the end of the semester, but the positive response from the student body caused SGA to vote to extend the drive into the spring semester. Since launching in mid-November, the drive has collected more than 1,500 coats.
“Students started to ask if they could bring coats from their hometowns after winter break,” Chavoya said. “If this is something that’s working and meeting a need, I don’t want it to stop.”
Rhyder Jolliff, a public administration sophomore from Muskogee, has helped ESA lead the drive by collecting coats from organizations throughout several counties.
“We have a duty as individuals, and as an educational community, to further ourselves through philanthropic activities and others by promoting general welfare and well-being,” Jolliff said. “RSU and the Honors Program here have taught us to be the best version of ourselves, and this is what we have found to be our sense of fostering community.”
Jolliff and other members of ESA have collected coats and other cold weather items from seven schools and various Salvation Army locations in Pryor, Muskogee, Hilldale and Tulsa. He believes community service is something everyone should do.
“Community service isn’t about getting a pat on the back. Community service is exactly that: a service,” Jolliff said. “We should all find a way to get out and help. Either by saying hi to someone that needs a friend, or leading an advocacy program to enact change. It’s personal here at RSU, and we should show that.”
Dr. Brent Marsh, the Vice President for Student Affairs at RSU, said he is proud of the commitment to help others that SGA and ESA have shown.
“At RSU we encourage our students to participate in community service both for personal enrichment and connection with their communities,” Marsh said. “To see students creating and leading their own service initiatives is inspiring, and it shows that they’ve taken community engagement to heart.”
To learn more about Hunter’s Helping Hoodies, or to donate new or gently used cold weather items, contact the Office of Student Affairs at 918-343-7579.