Reposted from SWTimes.com
University of the Ozarks donates to local Missouri Royal Family KIDS Camp
Reposted from SWTimes.com
Students, faculty and staff at the University of the Ozarks (U of O) have already dug into the Christmas spirit this holiday season.
The U of O donated to six local nonprofit agencies that provide food, promote literacy, serve individuals with special needs or bridge the opportunity gaps for youth created by wealth disparity Thursday, according to a news release. U of O President Richard L. Dunsworth said conversations concerning this initiative began last summer.
“Typically, we start planning for Christmas and holiday communication late spring, early summer,” Dunsworth said. “And in the course of that conversation, we started talking about the fact that we do a video that we send out electronically to our alumni, friends, we do things on our website, and we started with, ‘You know, we’re sending 5,000 Christmas cards out. Is that a practice we wish to continue?'”
Dunsworth said although the U of O will still create and distribute a Christmas video this year, it was decided the money that would have been spent on producing and sending out Christmas cards would go toward serving the Johnson County community, allowing the university to share its blessings with others.
The nonprofit organizations that were chosen to receive funding were selected by a committee comprised of U of O students, faculty and staff. Dunsworth said he also mandated the group could only choose nonprofit organizations in the selection process.
“As they started narrowing the list down, they made recommendations to me, and we started talking about criteria,” Dunsworth said. “We started with things like, well, food and hunger should be at the top of the list. Then, we talked about things like, well, youth. We have the opportunity to serve primarily a clientele, or students that are between 18 or 22, let’s think about students younger than that. And what are some other challenges? Well, some other challenges around opportunities, some other challenges, if we go even further than that, are around issues related to literacy. We basically narrowed it to those three areas: food, opportunities and literacy.”
The six nonprofit organizations that were chosen include:
- The Backpack Food Programs at the four Johnson County school districts that assist more than 250 children each week with food, including vegetables from the U of O Food for Thought Community Garden.
- The Johnson County Imagination Library program, which is currently providing almost 300 children in the county with free books each month.
- Arkansas River Valley Aquatics, which provides swimming lessons and scholarships for underprivileged children in Johnson County.
- The Royal Family Kids Camp, which serves approximately 30 underprivileged children in Johnson County each summer in a faith-based camp experience.
- Forrester-Davis Development Center, which provides services for children and adults with special needs.
- Self-Contained Classroom Field Day, where U of O students host and participate in athletic events with students from local self-contained classrooms.
The release states a total of about $4,500 will be donated to the organizations.
Dunsworth said he hopes this tradition will continue into next year and beyond.
“I think it’s important for us, as an institution, to be exceptional stewards of the resources that have been given to us,” Dunsworth said. “If there are opportunities to use our resources to live out our mission, to live out our Christian heritage, to live out our Presbyterian heritage, we should do that, and we should role model that for our students. We believe that we need to role model to our students what it means to be active, engaged citizens, and that some of that citizenship compels us to also be philanthropic. …”
The donations were presented to representatives of the nonprofits during the U of O Community Christmas Reception event Thursday at about 6:30 p.m., the release states.