If you’ve heard it once, you’ve likely heard it several times: Fuqua is a student-run community. This means not only that students are wholly responsible for club and MBA Association operations, but also that student demand dictates extracurricular events.

mba students with wrapped gifts
My section rep, Travis Ferber, and fellow blogger, Radiris Diaz, with Christmas gifts for the local family that we sponsored.

This term, one demand was particularly strong: students requested an opportunity to celebrate the holiday season by giving back to the local community. As a result, Fuqua organized its very first Project Share: students were connected with local Durham families, and each student section independently fundraised, purchased, and wrapped presents for its respective family. Fuqua exceeded its goal, effectively raising over $1,500 and helping 28 needy individuals in the Durham community.

Team Fuqua in Action

When my section representative (the first-year class is divided into sections, and each section is led by a section representative) announced that we would sponsor a family of 3 in the Durham community, he was met with overwhelming support. As graduate students with personal living expenses, student loans, and potentially the expenses of supporting a family — we set the suggested donation amount at a reasonable $2 per student. However, with great generosity, most students gave much more than the suggested amount.

shopping cart
Fellow blogger, Heather Langerman, shared this photo of gifts from her section.

After the initial fundraising, I had the opportunity to participate in the fun part — shopping! Two sectionmates and I handpicked gifts for the family of 3: a mother, her 6-year-old daughter, and 1-year-old son. The specific needs of the family were provided to us in advance to guide our purchases, and the requests included bed sheets and winter coats for the children.

In an effort to utilize our funds as effectively as possible, we did all shopping at high-quality, low-priced department stores. This required a thorough 3-hour bargain hunt. The time invested may sound excessive compared to the small number of items actually purchased, but our smart shopping provided us with leftover cash to purchase toys for the children. It was humbling to purchase bed sheets for the family, and it also felt good to provide the children with something that could bring them joy during the holidays: a Barbie, backpack, and sleeping bag for the girl, and a rocking horse and musical toy for the boy.

To put a final touch on the gifts, my section held a gift wrapping party so that everyone could see what their generosity had provided for our local family. The party was a fun holiday event that reminded us not only to be thankful for what we have, but also that we can use our blessings to give back to others. All of the colorfully wrapped gifts were delivered to the local families by Project Share leaders, including second-year student Christian Ricks, the MBA Association Director of Service, who helped get Project Share off the ground. He described his experience with the project as follows:

mba students wrapping gifts
Classmate Jose Ceballos shared this photo of his section’s gift wrapping party.

“We come to Fuqua and are blessed with so much. It’s good for the soul to remember that there are others less fortunate. One of the families we helped included a single mother, working two jobs, sleeping on the floor so her children can share a small bed. To be able to make her sincere wish to provide her children with some simple gifts brought such great joy to her. And we provided her with just basic essentials. We feel so privileged to help out in whatever small way to bring them a little Christmas joy. That’s Team Fuqua.”

The holidays are a busy time for everyone, and MBA students are no exception. As a first-year, I can attest to the craziness of the fall term: juggling core courses, internship recruiting, and various club leadership positions — it’s no joke. But even in the midst of all this, the Fuqua community recognized the importance in balancing our own needs with giving back to those less fortunate. I’m so proud of my classmates for voicing a desire to support the community during the holidays, and then rallying in support of this great project. This is why I joined Team Fuqua.

christmas gifts
All gifts were delivered to the local families by Christian Ricks and other project leaders.