FAMU students giving back during holiday season

Members of the Beta Nu chapter of Alpha Phi Alpa Fraternity, Inc. at the gift
station for the Angel Treein Coleman library, Marquis Bent (left) and
Stanley Smith (right) |Photo credit: De'Bria Payne

This holiday season at Florida A&M University (FAMU), the Beta Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and the Big Sister Little Sister (BSLS) mentoring program collaborated with the Salvation Army to make angels’ wishes come true.

A major toy drive being conducted is the annual Angel Tree program by the Alphas, which provides individuals the opportunity to give back to the community by purchasing gifts for those who are less fortunate.

A popular gift item that children have requested this year is bicycles. However, majority of the college student’s budgets cannot afford making big purchases for bicycles. As a result, Beta Nu created a new challenge with other organizations on campus to purchase a bicycle as a collective unit rather than individually.

Jordan Sealey, who is Mr. FAMU and a member of the Beta Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. expressed the changes.

“One thing we did differently this year was create a challenge to other organizations on campus called the BN Angel Bike Challenge, which challenges them to sponsor or adopt an angel that wished for a bicycle,” Sealey said.

Stanley Smith, who is also a member of the Beta Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. said that with this year’s turnout, he believes a lot of kids will have a good Christmas.

“I think it’s a very good thing for this community because there are a lot of underprivileged kids that may want and need things that their parents cannot get. Also, with the turnout this year I feel a lot of kids will have a good Christmas,” Smith said.

BSLS also partnered with the Salvation Army for the Angel Tree program. BSLS decided to focus on the senior citizens in the community because they are often overlooked.

President of BSLS Tajae Jones (left) and Dy'Min Cannon (right) at the gift station for
the Angel Treeprogram in Coleman library. | Photo credit: De'Bria Payne

Tajae Jones, who is the president of BSLS, said she wanted to bring awareness to senior citizens because often they are overlooked.

“I wanted to bring awareness to senior citizens, a lot of people forget about them in the nursing homes,” Jones said.

However, this was the first time an organization focused on senior citizens in partnership with the Angel Tree program.

Julie Smith, who is the supervisor for the Angel Tree program said that for senior citizens, it is slightly difficult, but the program has grown.

“As far as the Angel Tree program for the senior citizens, it’s one of the hardest ones to do,” Julie said. “Since last year we’ve grown more than 50 percent and have done more outreach.”

Students could pick up angel cards that had a description of the individual in need along with their name, age, size, and gift wishes.

Gifts were collected in the front entrance of Coleman library on campus. The front entrance of the library was chosen because it is an area of high traffic for students. The gifts that students drop off were asked to be unwrapped to make it easier for the Salvation Army to distribute.

The Angel Tree program has expanded since FAMU’s involvement. The various organizations on campus also prove they can come together to reach one common goal, which is giving back to the community.

Since the implementation of the program on FAMU’s campus, it has had nothing less than a positive impact.

“The participation in the program has grown over the years,” Julie said, “It gives me peace knowing FAMU is helping us and we could not do it without the help of FAMU.”

The gifts has been dropped off to the Salvation Army on Dec. 1.