September 22, 2023

International Day of Charity

By Sonya D. Lavett

Columbia Southern University is actively engaged in serving our community and doing what we can to help others. Many CSU staff recently loaded up vans and trucks with supplies and drove to Louisiana to assist those affected by the terrible flooding that occurred last month.

This is just one example of the volunteer work the CSU family is a part of. Whether we are packing backpacks for local children to have enough food and supplies to get them through the school week or participating in the Relay for Life activities, there is never a shortage of wonderful causes that have a direct impact on the lives of our community members.

CSU students and alumni also share in this spirit of giving back; we are fortunate to hear about so many great stories of the generosity that all of you participate in. These stories of individual acts of kindness and charity make our hearts swell with pride.

Perhaps in life’s struggles, we all understand what it means to be supportive of others when we can, and that it’s not always about us.

The International Day of Charity is celebrated around the world each September, reminding all of us how important it is to give back and put the needs of others first. In honor of this special day, here are a couple of instances of outstanding CSU students doing wonderful things in and outside of their own communities.

Austin Zimmerman, a proud CSU student who works for the City of Greensboro Fire Department, grew up with a dream of serving his community. Participating in the Boy Scouts of America and then the Eagle Scouts was a natural progression for him.

For his project, Austin walked every single city-owned trail and coordinated the mile markers through GPS on each trail. This way, if someone is injured, they simply need to identify the nearest half-mile marker so the response team is able to locate them and send in help more quickly and efficiently. Not only did Austin’s idea and hard work earn him several awards, but he has also taken the idea to nearby towns and cities and demonstrated how the system works.

Another CSU student, Donald Weathers, was overseas with his fellow Marines when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005. With the recent flooding that occurred in Baton Rouge this past August, Donald saw a major opportunity to jump in and help out. Despite the fact that he lives four hours away and had been saving his PTO for a family vacation in December, he loaded up his vehicle with as many supplies as he could find and helped out the owners of ten damaged homes. The flooding and the severe damage was shocking to see in person, so he called his brother, also a U.S. Marine, and they gathered even more supplies and tools so they could rip up wet carpet, floors and sheetrock, tossing out ruined furniture and other belongings. Together they worked 12-14 hour days for seven days straight. The homeowners were all blown away by the generosity of these kind strangers, but in Donald’s eyes, he got something out of the experience: a chance to give hope to others and get them started on the rebuilding of their communities so they can return back to normalcy.

Charity, volunteering, outreach, participating in community events, stepping up in times of emergency and strife, even making an effort to look out for our neighbors . . . All of these things mean so much to those who benefit from our awareness. Participation is what makes the world a better place. When we place the needs of others before our own wants and needs, we show a commitment to humankind and we provide something much greater than anything tangible: hope.