Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
So, it was for the Thomas F. Chapman Leadership Scholars’ desire to deliver on a year-end community service given the pandemic had cancelled their annual “Christmas 4 Kids” event.
Led by George Davis and Tevej Rhodes, the 36 Chapman Leadership Scholars across campus executed on their desire to improve the quality of lives for area children, and adults, by becoming “blanketeers” this holiday season.
“Christmas 4 Kids has been a staple every year since 2013 and benefited upwards of 120 children from schools throughout the area,” said Mary Anne Raymond, Chapman Scholars director, Thomas F. Chapman Distinguished Professor of Leadership and Professor of Marketing. “With COVID 19 cancelling this year’s holiday event, our students pivoted and found a way to serve the community from a distance.”
Leading that charge were Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business seniors George and Tevej. The pair rallied their Chapman Leadership Scholar cohorts and recruited scores of other students on campus to sew 73 blankets through Project Linus. A non-profit, Project Linus provides hand-made blankets to children and adults in homeless shelters, victims of domestic abuse and children’s hospitals.
The Clemson “blanketeers” had to first raise money to purchase blanket kits for Project Linus and managed to secure more than $1,500 in donations for the project.
“We weren’t going to let the pandemic prevent us providing a community service over the holidays, so we looked at other opportunities that would serve children and people in need,” said Tevej, an economics major. “At the recommendation of one of the scholars, we chose Project Linus and immediately began fundraising and recruiting blanketeers across all social sites. We recruited 90-plus volunteers and raised more than needed for the blanket kits, so we purchased socks to donate along with the blankets.”
George, a finance and accounting double major, said the blankets and socks were delivered to the Anderson chapter of Project Linus, which passed on the scholars’ contributions to a mixture of children’s hospitals and homeless shelters.
“We chose Project Linus this year because we believe it was a safe alternative to doing Christmas 4 Kids. There was less human-to-human interaction for safety, but it didn’t deter people from helping out,” George said. “It was amazing the way the community stepped up during this very difficult time. We couldn’t have been more pleased with the participation and outcome.”
Being held accountable and to a higher standard have been hallmarks of the business school’s Thomas F. Chapman Leadership Scholars Program, established in 2009 by Chapman ’65, former CEO and board chair of Equifax.
The scholars program selects students at Clemson University who show leadership potential and nurtures those qualities throughout their Clemson career. The program is designed to enrich students’ academic preparation beyond the classroom and curriculum and support the college’s mission to develop leadership abilities in its students.
Each year, the scholars program welcomes carefully vetted students into its exclusive fold from a pool that often exceeds 200 applicants. Students apply their freshman year when they are screened and interviewed to determine their leadership potential, which is required for entry into the program, which begins during their sophomore year. Chapman Leadership Scholars have the potential to receive a total of $6,000 in scholarships over three years.
“The initiative and resiliency these students showed in insisting ‘the show must go on’ even during difficult times, epitomizes the mission of the Thomas F. Chapman Leadership Scholars program and the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business,” Raymond said. “Their efforts are a perfect example of how students’ academic preparation and leadership abilities are being enriched beyond the classroom and how they are truly making a difference.”
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