Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Jump roping flash mob raises awareness for Kenyan orphanage

A jump roping flash mob turned heads during lunch at the University of Illinois Springfield’s Food Emporium on Tuesday, Dec. 14. It was all in an effort to raise awareness about Jump for Joel, a non-profit organization started by UIS student Shana Stine in 2005.

“We decided to do something a little different and a little unusual to celebrate Joel’s birthday,” said Stine.

Joel, who just turned 11-years-old, is an orphan at the Gathiga Children’s Hope Home in Kenya. The primary focus of Jump for Joel is to raise money for the orphanage of 120 children northwest of Nairobi. The group also finances a feeding program in the Kabiria slum of Nairobi.

“Joel is an orphan, HIV positive, but it doesn’t slow him down. He loves to jump rope and is very joyful, so that’s kind of why we named it Jump for Joel,” said Stine.

Stine was joined by a group of current and former UIS students to celebrate Joel’s birthday. Amelia Cheshire graduated from UIS in May and now serves as Administrative Director for Jump for Joel.

“Going to Kenya and meeting the kids for myself and just falling in love with them. They’ve changed my life as much as I’ve ever hoped to changed there’s and so that’s a huge reason why I continue to do this,” said Cheshire.

Every summer a group of UIS students travels to Kenya to volunteer and meet the orphans. Freshman biology major Amanda Cummins wants to make the trip next summer. Knowing the organization was started at UIS makes her feel like it’s possible to make a difference.

“I think it’s awesome that UIS students started this. I think it’s a great thing to show what we can do as students,” said Cummings.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Students stuff stockings for children at Inner City Mission in Springfield

A group of over 40 University of Illinois Springfield students spent their Friday night stuffing stockings in an effort to put a smile on children’s faces.

Members of the UIS Christian Student Fellowship have been collecting money from fellow students on campus to fill the stockings for the past three years. Donations will benefit 35 children at Inner City Mission in Springfield this year.

“They never really get stockings. They get presents sometimes, but they never get stockings, so stockings is something new,” said Amanda Wilczynski, a junior Computer Science major who helped coordinate the event.

The students raised more than $550 going door-to-door in townhouses and residence halls on campus.

“Normally we just get to fill stockings, but this year because of the generosity of the students we’re able to not only give them stockings, but give them bigger presents,” said Debra Tudor, a senior Social Work major.

Inner City Mission provides shelter, support, education and faith based counseling to homeless children, their parents and single women in the Springfield community.

Andrew Nicol, a junior Communication major, has volunteered regularly at the mission. He knows the difference the stockings will make in the children’s lives.

“I know that these kids actually look forward to this kind of thing. They understand that this is coming from students who normally couldn’t do this,” said Nicol.

Following the stocking stuffing, members of the Christian Student Fellowship hand delivered the gifts to the children at the Inner City Mission.

“They’ve never really felt love like this before, so I know for a fact they are going to know people at UIS truly care about them,” said Tudor.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Volunteers thanked for making Holiday Stars Project a success

The University of Illinois Springfield collected a record 9,612 pounds of food for the Central Illinois Foodbank as part of the 2010 Holiday Stars Project. That’s an increase from the 6,209 pounds collected last year.

Student, staff, and faculty volunteers gathered to hear the announcement of the final total during a celebration in the Public Affairs Center on Friday, December 3. The volunteers helped load a truck with the canned goods collected following the celebration.

UIS Chancellor Harry Berman thanked the volunteers for their efforts and dedication to service. He said the project shows the community that UIS cares.

In addition to collecting food on campus throughout the month of November, students also involve the community through the Trick-or-Treat for Canned Goods competition. On Halloween night, seventeen student groups from UIS collected a record 8,354 pounds of food.

The UIS Holiday Stars Project, a campus-wide service initiative giving focus to UIS’ efforts to make a difference in the local community during the holiday season was started in 2008. The month-long food drive benefits foodbank clients in 21 central Illinois counties.

View more photos from the Holiday Stars volunteer event

Thursday, December 2, 2010

UIS Visual Arts Gallery holds benefit and auction

The Visual Arts Gallery at the University of Illinois Springfield will be holding its 2010 Benefit and Silent Auction December 7 through 9.

The annual auction offers a wide range of donated art from national and local artists and collectors. The items featured this year include photographs, original paintings, prints, and pottery from local and international artists including Chris Britt, Felicia Olin, and Ginny Lee.

There will be a reception to close the auction on Thursday, December 9 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the Visual Arts Gallery. Bidding will end at 7 p.m. Refreshments will be provided, and the reception and exhibit are open and free to the public.

The event is sponsored by the Friends of the UIS Visual Arts Gallery, and all proceeds benefit future gallery programming.

The Visual Arts Gallery is located in room 201 of the Health and Sciences Building on the UIS campus. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The gallery will be open on December 9 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

For more information, go online to www.uis.edu/visualarts/ or contact the gallery by phone at 217/206-6506 or by e-mail at gallery@uis.edu.