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Sophomore money initiative encourages generosity

University Ministries and Residence Life have teamed as part of the Living a Better Story Project to give everyone living in sophomore housing $10 in cash to encourage giving and generosity.

A Belmont donor suggested the idea several years ago in hopes it would encourage students to be more aware of their capability to give.

The dorms included in the project are Thrailkill Hall, Russell Hall and Dickens Hall.

“What we really want to do is encourage all of our students to look at their resources, whether it’s time, money or their education as a gift that they’ve received that they can use to give gifts to other folks, particularly in places where there’s considerable need,” said Micah Weedman, University Ministries director of Outreach.

When Belmont began the reaccreditation process in 2010, the university decided to focus on a quality enhancement plan that both created the Growth and Purpose for Students program as well as the Living a Better Story initiative, also known as LABS, which this particular project grew out of.

“Simply put, residence life at Belmont is focused on providing opportunities for each resident to experience growth both on a personal and spiritual level as it pertains to their living experience,” said Dickens Hall Residence Director David Freidrichs. “Therefore, involving the LABS concept with the community councils of Russell, Thrailkill and Dickens Hall was the first step in empowering our student leaders to then encourage and partner with their peers to push this exciting project forward.”

LABS felt sophomores were the perfect audience for the project.

“A side objective of ours is to say to sophomores that we really respect you and take you seriously, and we want you to come along on this journey. If you’re feeling the ‘sophomore slump,’ that’s normal and natural, but we have leadership opportunities that are unique to what sophomores are up to,” said Weedman.

Sophomore residence halls are planning events for the students to discuss how they have spent their money in positive ways.

While LABS is emphasizing that students are encouraged to spend the money, many students choose to invest their money into events allowing them to make more money for organizations they care about. In the past, students have used their money to put together concerts, bake sales and competitions to raise more money for various charities.

“We want to stand out of the way and let students use their creativity, but what we hope is that it inspires a process of thinking about everything as a gift that you can use,” said Weedman.

The elected community councils of the residence halls have also gotten involved with the project by acting as ambassadors and trying to personally hand out the money.

“I definitely think people are going to be more aware of things going on around them because of this project,” said Shelby Killoran, president of Russell Hall community council. “People don’t always carry around cash to be able to give to a homeless person or buy a copy of the Contributor so having the physical cash to do something good will get people thinking.”

Photo taken by Zach Gilchriest.

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