New Bonner projects give back to the community

For nearly 25 years, the Bonner Scholars Program has been making a difference in communities across the country. Here at Guilford, the program is still inventing projects so Guilfordians can contribute to the local community.

One of these projects is the Giving Tree.

“The Giving Tree is a project sponsored by Project Community to give to those in need this Christmas,” said first-year Isabel Gutierrez, Project Community member.

The tree in Founders lobby features several notes with the name of a person in need and what they need for Christmas.

“The idea is that each person on campus can walk past the tree, take a note and get someone a present,” said Gutierrez. “By December 11, they should get it back to me. My contact information (is) on the little notes, too.”

The goal is to encourage participation from the entire Guilford community, regardless of involvement with Bonner. Anyone can take a note from the tree, donate or ask that a donation be made.

“If you know an individual who really needs something, (let us know),” said senior Noelle Lane, Project Community member and Church Under the Bridge project coordinator. “It’s an opportunity for sites (and individuals) to get involved.”

Project Community is hopeful that every person who takes a note off the tree follows through in buying a present.

“I hope we can get every note off the tree (taken) and everyone that takes a note gets a present back to me on time,” said Gutierrez.

Many sites are getting involved, including Church Under the Bridge. One thing they need is items that can keep people warm, such as blankets, which can still be donated to the Bonner House.

“I’m not one for band aid fixes, but (these are) lifesaving tools,” said Lane. “It’s getting colder and colder. The Interactive Resource Center is opening its doors, but there are still people out there. We need lifesaving things to keep people warm.”

Guilford’s Church Under the Bridge project coordinators hope to further build relationships through a dinner that will take place in April. The dinner is open to the Guilford community, and many Guilford students are performing.

“The goal is for us to be able to eat with the people there,” said Lane. “It’s an opportunity to build relationships.”

Even now that the semester is ending, students are starting new Bonner sites, like sophomore Mara Stern, who worked with the Children’s Defense Fund’s Freedom School this summer.

“I’d really like to either incorporate aspects (of Freedom School) into the sites we have or start my own site,” said Stern.

Freedom School provides both after-school tutoring and summer school for children in less fortunate areas.

“One of the most beautiful things about Freedom School was pulling together,” said Stern. “It’s really what helped the kids.”

Even at the already established tutoring sites, kids have been doing more than just math problems and textbook readings, like potlucks at Ashton Woods Apartment Complex and day trips at Elimu Empowerment Services.

“We took kids to the civil rights museum,” said sophomore Zach Lindsey, Elimu member. “We have a mock trial that the kids are going to participate in.”

All Bonner sites are always looking for students to contribute, whether towards a short term-project or a long-term goal.

To get involved, contact Project Community at [email protected].