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Make a Difference  

Each semester Carol Anne Ketelsen's COM 202, Group Dynamics, class is assigned the task to "Make a Difference." This project is designed to fulfill the service learning component of the course. The assignment goes beyond "Making a Difference," it allows students to interact in a group setting, learn about their community and connect to their communities. Students experience the stages of group development while impacting their communities. Through the "Make a Difference" project course objectives are met and students are actively engaged in community service.

Many families in Pontiac will benefit from the generous donations of students this holiday season. Group One “Made a Difference” with the Baldwin Center by donating over 250 canned goods to the organization. This group developed a pop bottle/can drive that brought in 2400 pop bottle/cans and raised $240. With the $240 they were able to purchase over 250 canned goods, which more than doubled the amount of food in the Baldwin Center’s food pantry. The representatives at the Baldwin Center were thrilled when the group arrived with that number of donations.

Operation Care Package sent men serving in Iraq a friendly reminder of home this Holiday Season. Group two “Made a Difference” by organizing a donation drive to collect supplies to send to US troops in Iraq. They were able to collect five boxes of donations and $300. The $300 allowed them to buy more supplies for the care packages as well as cover the cost to ship the goods to Iraq. Donations included items such as soap, chips, candy and thank you cards among other items. The group was happy with the overwhelming response they received from the community. They worked with K-Mart to set up shop outside the store and as customers walked into the store they were given a flyer about the project. Most customers participated either by purchasing an item listed on the flyer or by making a monetary donation.  

A local family will celebrate a wonderful Christmas this year due to the generosity of Oakland University students. Group three “Made a Difference” with Share a Smile by adopting a family of four for Christmas. The group was able to raise $410 to buy Christmas gifts, Christmas dinner and other items for the family. Their fundraiser was held at JD’s Key Club and the club donated the cover charge back to the group. There was also a 50/50 raffle the night of the fundraiser to raise additional funds for the family.  Share a Smile sent the group a wish list for the family and $325 was used to buy gifts and food for the family, including two bikes for the young children. The rest of the money was used to purchase a gift card that allowed the family to buy any other items they may need for winter or in general. When the group delivered the gifts to the family the children were incredibly excited to have their own bikes.

Oakland University students brought smiles to local seniors’ faces. Group four “Made a Difference” with the elderly at Sanctuary Mercy Bellbrook in Rochester Hills. This group was able to directly serve seniors by interacting with them during a dessert social. They served pie to the seniors and spent some time listening to stories of the “good ol’ days.”   The seniors and the students both enjoyed spending the time together as was evident by the smiles and positive atmosphere of the room.

Students brought “Happiness during the Holidays” to a local family.  Group five “Made a Difference” by adopting a family of eight through Volunteers for America. They developed a fundraiser at Sunny Brook Bowling Alley that brought in $270. Volunteers for America provided the group with a wish list and list of needs for the family. After raising the money the group headed out to buy gifts for the seven children in the family. Group five was surprised that many of the items on the wish list were winter supplies such as coats, gloves, hats and boots. They were able to buy 25 items for the family including winter items, food and even some toys and games for the younger children. When they delivered the Christmas gifts to the family the mother was touched that a group of students would care about her family enough to provide them with Christmas.