Madison’s heart

James Irwin (’06), James Madison University’s assistant director of Alumni Relations, writes today’s blog post, catching us up on some far flung alumni and what they are doing to Be the Change…..

Madison’s heart

by James Irwin (’06)

309937_10150698531284213_1855989507_nCitizenship is at the heart of the Madison Experience, and at the JMU Alumni Association, chapters across the United States have been rolling up their sleeves to help others.

Attendees at Harrisonburg and Washington D.C. holiday social events — held in mid-December — donated more than 125 toys to children in need through the Toys for Tots program

“The holidays inspire a sense of giving and community service,” said Beth Pope (’07), community service committee chair for the MetroDukes Chapter in Washington D.C. “We thought a toy drive was a great way for JMU alumni to have a quick and easy, but also tremendous impact on their community.”

Pope and her fellow alumni teamed with U.S. Marine Corps Major Scott Clendaniel (’01) on the toy drive — part of an annual holiday social held at BlackFinn Saloon in Washington. The group wound up donating more than 75 toys to needy families. The Harrisonburg event, hosted by the Harrisonburg chapter and held on campus at JMU’s alumni center, brought in another 50.

“Life can become a little hectic after JMU, with alumni balancing full-time jobs and growing families,” Pope said. “But the sense of community and willingness to give back is always present.”

Other regional volunteer opportunities coming up include an elementary school cleanup event in Philadelphia on Jan. 21, and the Big Event, JMU’s day of community service, scheduled for April 13. Launched in 2011, The Big Event brings members of the Madison community (both on campus and throughout the United States) together for a day of volunteerism. The 2012 event included more than 1,000 student and alumni volunteers in 13 municipal areas across the country. (Check out the video below about The Big Event that Kelsey Mohring (’12), Makenzie Walter and David Jordan (’13) put together.)

“Last year, we had a host of volunteer opportunities,” said Amanda Leech (’09), chapter coordinator in JMU’s Office of Alumni Relations. “We had cleanup events at parks, schools and community centers. We volunteered at food banks and animal shelters and with Habitat for Humanity. This year we’ll be looking to expand into more markets, and provide more service opportunities, like blood drives and veterans assistance programs.”

The alumni office is hopeful The Big Event, fueled by JMU’s culture of service, can expand to 20 markets in 2013.

“At every community service event, alumni always reiterate how meaningful the event has been for them,” Pope said. “Whether it’s donating their time to clean up a park, or donating a physical item like toys, JMU alumni want to give back to their community.”


About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

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