One senior social work student’s most recent undertaking has gone out for community service.
Sam McCullough is currently working with Tom’s Cause for Claus, an organization very “close to her heart,” to make Christmas more for kids in her hometown.
“Tom’s Cause for Claus was actually created by a family friend,” McCullough said. “She’s been like a second mom to me my entire life and she created it in honor of Tom who was someone that was very close to her. He was passionate about giving toys to underprivileged children in a shelter. So she added her own twist and started adopting an economically disadvantaged elementary school district during the holiday season and ensuring that each student received a gift for Christmas… She has carried this out for the past four years on her own and never asked for donations; she just did it herself. I asked if I could partner with her and she was so excited about all my ideas. So I kind of made it known and started spreading the word about the cause and planned an event to collect monetary and toy donations.”
The first undertaking in McCullough’s project was a BBQ event that she hosted in the Oval on Oct. 25. She received community donations from Smokey Racks, Rib Crib, Colton’s Steakhouse, and Home Depot that helped make the BBQ portion easy. Between the pulled pork sandwiches, cheesy potatoes, and baked beans, they were able to serve more than 145 people. In total, they received $899 and 23 toy donations.
“I’m still in the middle of executing the project,” McCullough said, “but I would definitely say the BBQ event was the most time consuming just because it took so much work. It was definitely a relief too after it was over and the turnout was greater than I could have ever expected… Continuing to collect toys from the community until November 20th, promoting a GoFundMe and Amazon Wishlist, shopping for toys, planning an event to wrap all the toys, & the delivering of the toys to the elementary school sometime before they go on Christmas break. A lot left to do, but the hard part is over.”
Although McCullough knows she wants to pursue her graduate degree in social work, she is not sure what field she wants to go into. For now, she enjoys the chance to give back to local children through a cause that is so close to her.
“It’s important to give back to others and the community in general,” McCullough said. “Specifically, it’s important because of the overall problem of poverty. Each elementary school we choose is an economically disadvantaged one. This means that almost all the students, sometimes all of them, are on free/reduced lunches. This means the families of these individuals struggle to meet the basic needs of survival and make things such as Christmas gifts an unattainable luxury.”
Anyone who is interested in donating to McCullough and Tom’s Cause can reach her by phone at (785) 304-2539 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. There will also be donation boxes in Russ Hall on the third floor and at the Physical Plant. For more information on what to donate, there is a GoFundMe page as well as an Amazon wishlist of desired toys. Tom’s Cause for Claus can also be found on Facebook for more updates.